MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – Despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in Alabama, school leaders plan to keep the doors open and the kids learning in-person statewide after the Thanksgiving holiday.

While a statewide switch to virtual learning is off the table, for now, the state superintendent says individual schools could close if needed, but that is a last resort.

“We will do everything we can to avoid widespread closures of physical schools,” Dr. Eric Mackey said.

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This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19 isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab.

As Alabama’s COVID case count surges, the state’s top educator is vowing to keep school doors open.

In Mobile County, students will be off next week, as planned, but after the brief break they will be back on campus.

“Our goal is to stay with in-person learning as long as we can,” said Rena Philips with the Mobile County Public School System.

Since Alabama’s largest school district started in-person about two months ago, COVID has not caused signficant issues.

Philips says the district hopes that holds true after Thanksgiving.

“We have had relatively few cases of COVID-19,” she said. “Now we have had to quarantine staff members and students and when you do that you have to go out for 14 days so that is a challenge, but so far we’ve been able to address those challenges.”

While Mobile schools have done well, State Superintendent Dr. Mackey says not every district has been so lucky.

“You get to the point you just can’t keep the school open because there’s not enough adults to run the school when that happens then we want to work with the local superintendents to close that school for as brief a period of time as possible,” he said.

While the plan is to keep in-person learning, Philips says the process to shift online would be seamless.

“One thing that we’ve done very well in Mobile County Public Schools was that we prepared for the remote learning,” she said. “We’ve given our students devices, they know the Schoology platform, our teachers know that platform.”

At this point, in-person classes will continue in Mobile and Baldwin counties with no plans to make any changes.

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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