HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The idea of reopening schools in the fall is looking less likely in much of the country as coronavirus cases surge. Some school districts have decided to start the semester online, others have pushed back their start dates.
In Alabama, the Department of Education said reopening schools should be decided locally.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said face-coverings will play a vital role in protecting children and teachers in the classroom this fall.
ADPH is providing funding for 2.5 million facial coverings for Alabama schools. The funding covers approximately three masks per staff member and three per student. They are washable and reusable.
State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said the full intention is for schools to start back on campus this fall. All schools will undergo enhanced cleaning and sanitization and all schools will have designated quarantine areas for students who become sick at school.
It is recommended by the state department of education all school systems provide access to both traditional and remote options throughout the school year.
Both Landers and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said if schools follow these instructions they would feel okay sending their children back to the classroom.
“In terms of my children with the superintendent’s guidance and the Alabama Department of Public Health in place with what we advise, I personally would send my children,” said Dr. Landers.
“I’ll have a grandchild who will be going to school this year. It is a great educational time for him, and part of his education is learning good hygiene, part of his education is to learn to wash his hands to stay separated and stay sanitized,” said Battle.
Some parents said they are fearful their children will be exposed at school and could bring the virus and its potentially deadly risks into their homes.
In a news conference Friday, Battle said about 25 percent of the Huntsville city school district have opted for virtual learning.
Other parents are comfortable sending kids back, citing safety protocols designed by the school districts.
One mom we spoke to said no parent should be judged for their decision to send their kid back or keep them home.
She believes everyone needs to decide what works best for their families.
“It is a challenge for everybody,” said Ashley Casiano. “Right now there is so much parental judgement and shaming going on, and it is really hard to make this decision without people weighing in. It is really unique for every family. I just would like to think we could give each other a little grace.”
Mackey is expected to give the governor more safety recommendations for those who decide to return to traditional schooling.