Gov. Ivey allocates $170M to help reopen schools amid pandemic

Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 10:19 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Soon yellow buses will be rolling through neighborhoods again because the new school year is right around the corner.

On Monday, the Charleston County School Board will vote on school reopening plans.
On Monday, the Charleston County School Board will vote on school reopening plans.(Live 5 News)

We’ve told you the state superintendent’s plan for reopening schools.

And by now most of the districts here in north Alabama have come out with their own.

Monday, we learned about millions in state dollars to help schools reopen. $170 million to be exact.

$170,000 hundred is the minimum amount every school in Alabama is getting through the two grant programs.

Some schools will get more based on need.

One hundred and thousand of that is to pay for necessary technology for remote learning.

The other $70,000 can be used for the things like temperature screening equipment and COVID-19 testing.

“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is getting everything ordered and in place for the start of school. But fortunately these are reimbursement grants, so in many cases they’ve gone ahead and purchased what they can with local dollars, expecting that funds would eventually come through,” State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said.

But a big question on everyone’s mind, what happens if a county sees a big outbreak in cases?

Mackey says the department of public health can shut a school down.

“They retain the right to go into a community if they feel like there’s a significant outbreak and they need to shut down a portion of schools or a portion of the schools,” he explained.

ATAC-19, or Alabama Teachers Against COVID-19- is made up of more than 5,000 teachers across the state.

“I love teaching and I don’t want to lose my teaching certificate because I failed to speak up and say don’t send us and our children back to an unsafe environment,” ATAC founder Tracey Davis said.

Some say it’s unsafe, to the point of getting their will and affairs in order.

“It seems drastic but if you look around these are drastic time we are in. These are times no one could have imagined,” Davis said.

Members also say there's too many holes in schools' reopening plans.

Dr. Mackey says right now he’s working with the health department to help fill some of those holes.

“What we anticipate now is a document from the department of public health but then we will addend that also to our information,” Dr. Mackey said.

But Tracey Davis says the risk is too great.

“It’s our moral and professional responsibility to stand up and put voice to that because we’re child advocates,” she said.

ATAC-19 is planning demonstrations statewide on Thursday.

Dr. Mackey tells us the reopening plan is a living document, and they’re expecting a document from the Alabama of Department of Public Health.

When they get that, they’ll update the plan.

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