Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is now pushing for school systems across the state to go back to in-person learning as soon as possible in 2021.
“Due to COVID-19, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, especially for our parents, teachers and students," Ivey said in a press release from her office on Tuesday. "I’m extremely grateful for the flexibility everyone has shown as they have adapted to virtual instruction. However, virtual and remote instruction are stop-gap measures to prevent our students from regressing academically during the pandemic."
Ivey goes on to say in the statement, "These practices cannot — and should not — become a permanent part of instructional delivery system in 2021. As we are learning more about COVID-19, we are seeing more and more clear evidence pointing out that our students are safe in the classroom with strong health protocols in place."
The statements from the Republican governor come after a historic drop in student enrollment in Alabama public schools. Enrollment rates help determine the amount of state funds distributed by the Legislature. Ivey said this could potentially lead to a loss in teachers across the state.
“There are nearly 9,800 fewer students enrolled statewide in this academic year and a five percent reduction in students on the kindergarten level," Ivey said. "This will not only result in a critical learning loss for our students today but will also likely lead to an equally negative impact on the readiness of our workforce in years to come. Additionally, it could have an equally important economic loss that affects the critical funding for our classrooms and teacher units."
Ivey is now urging school systems to go back to the traditional classroom learning as quickly as possible in the new year.
“As we begin the holiday season and contemplate a return to a normalcy in 2021, I strongly urge our education leadership on both the state and local levels to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible," she said.
Ivey is also promising to keep working with state education leaders, like State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, to push the plan forward.
“My Administration will work with Dr. Mackey, all of our local superintendents and the Legislature to ensure that our kids are back in the classroom in 2021," Ivey said. "Our employers, our families, our communities, Alabama’s taxpayers, and most importantly, our students, deserve nothing less.”