MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – Schools in Alabama have reported more than 9,195 cases of the virus among students and staff over the past week, an increase that has prompted more schools to temporarily switch to the distance learning.
A state dashboard was updated on Friday with information from 84 of 143 school districts. Superintendent Eric Mackey first revealed the number during an event Thursday with the Medical Association in Alabama.
Mackey said the statewide spike in COVID-19 cases – fueled by the highly contagious delta variant – came as schools opened for the school year.
“We had dozens of students sent home on the first day of school and then more and more,” Mackey said. “Now we have dozens of campuses that are closed to in-person teaching.”
Mackey said schools try, if possible, to avoid shutting down for long periods of time. He said the next standardized test results, which have not yet been made public, will show the scores were hit last year when schools closed to in-person teaching.
“They are going to be drastically down in all areas,” he said. “This is what we expected. This is what we predicted, and we hope to be able to turn the tide this year. “
In the past four weeks, people aged 5 to 17 accounted for 21% of all cases of the virus in Alabama, even though they make up 16% of the population.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has not established statewide mask orders, instead leaving the decision to local school boards. Mackey estimated that 90% of Alabama’s school systems need masks.
Students at Bessemer town high school left class on Thursday to protest against virus precautions, media reported.
“Until the numbers go down and they get a handle on that, I think it’s imperative that they go back to virtual,” Kenyatta Watkins, the school’s mother of two, told WBRC-TV. .