MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- Alabama's public schools will continue to finish out the school year from home, but some students could be back on campuses as early as next month as part of State School Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey's phased in plan.

Dr. Mackey says under the phased-reopening plan -- starting June 8th -- students 13 and older will possibly be able to return to campuses in groups of 10 or less.

"They could be coming on campus to do summer workouts... small group summer school sessions and those kinds of things. Certainly we hope... if public health changes the numbers and they say know we can't do that -- we won't do it," said Dr. Mackey.

Jump to July 6th -- the plan would possibly allow younger students to attend reading programs under the same guidelines.

We asked local school systems what they thought of the plan. Mobile County Public Schools tell us they are "waiting on more guidance and will continue to work closely with the state."

Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler released the following statement:

"We have no objection to the proposal by State Superintendent Mackey to provide staged student access to school campuses in June, however, we also have no comment or additional information to share at this time.

Last month I announced that our After-School Care Summer Programs were canceled for the summer. At the time, I said the system would not be revisiting this decision regardless of the trajectory on COVID-19. That remains true today.

The reason is parents need to be able to make plans for their children. I did not feel comfortable in what type of care the system would be able to provide throughout the summer and at what cost.

With regards to summer school, school sponsored programs and athletics, I previously committed to making an announcement prior to Memorial Day.

We continue to gather information from our principals, coaches and activity sponsors to determine the steps we will need to take to provide a safe environment for our kids. We also need to work with other organizations as some of these events are sponsored by outside groups. Some are sponsored by regional and national groups and could involve out-of-state participants and/or out of state travel.

I still expect to have an announcement prior to Memorial Day and will provide it to you as soon as it is available."

Meanwhile, during this time of distance learning -- many parents have a new-found respect for teachers.

"It's difficult for parents because we are not teachers," said Heidi Branson. "We love our teachers."

Branson is a mother of two and encouraged to hear Dr. Mackey expects students to start the fall back in the classroom.

"Very happy for them to go back to school just to have something to do -- or just be with their friends again. LEE: Do you think the kids are ready to get back? -- I know mine are," said Branson.

Even though they have made great strides with online learning during the COVID-19 shutdown, Dr. Mackey says they're prepared for shortcomings.

"We know that there will be learning gaps.. not maybe -- we know there will be learning gaps. Because there are students who need assistance from their teachers... that's why we book qualified teachers in the classroom. Right now they are home with their parents -- and I'm sure their parents are assisting the best that they can. But we've got students that are going to come back who have developed learning gaps. So we will have to deal with that and we will," said Dr. Mackey.

At least 31 states and Washington, DC have ordered or recommended that schools don't reopen this academic year

The majority of governors in the United States have ordered or recommended that statewide school closures continue for the rest of the academic year to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Mackey says work is also underway to make sure athletics are able to resume safely come fall.

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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