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All K-12 public schools to remain closed

UPDATE: Escambia Academy will close school for remainder of year

Alternate learning will begin April 6

Gov. Kay Ivey announced today that all K-12 public schools will remain closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that alternative learning means will begin April 6.

Ivey delivered the update at a press conference this afternoon at the state capitol.

Because of the rise of COVID-19 diagnoses, Ivey and State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey made the decision to close the remainder of the school year. The closing also includes no spring sports.

According to the fourth supplemental state of emergency relating to COVID-19, beginning at the start of school on April 6, all public K-12 schools need to implement a plan to complete the 2019-20 school year using alternate methods (at-home learning) of instruction by the state superintendent (Eric Mackey) of education.

As of Thursday evening, there are 524 confirmed cases in Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. None have been confirmed for Escambia County.

According to the proclamation, “local school districts will make staffing decisions and determinations related to access to school buildings in accordance with all applicable health orders and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Alabama Department of Public Health.”

Additionally, the school year will end on June 5, officials said.

Escambia Academy Headmaster Hugh Fountain announced on the school’s Facebook page that the school will be closed for the remainder of the year. Recently, students came to the school to acquire materials and packets to help with their education, he said in the statement.

“This means that our actions of coming and getting school materials and packets was a step in the right direction,” Fountain said. “We are committed to completing the school year and graduating our seniors on May 21, we just will not be in the school building doing that.

“I am sure that there are many questions that our members have, and I may or may not have the answers to them,” he said. “This is new territory for all of us. The emphasis right now is slowing the spread of the COVID-19. We must not forget it is a contagious virus that can be spread very quickly. We are observing the ‘social distancing’ (keeping 6-feet away from others) in our facilities, but I must encourage you to emphasize to your children, especially teenagers, that it is not healthy to ‘hang out’ with groups of 10 or more. We need to not be fearful, but be educated.”

This is a developing story.