State Superintendent reacts to new mask requirement in schools

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 10:49 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - This week, Governor Kay Ivey announced that students from second grade and up are required to wear face masks whenever practical. State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey admits wearing a mask is uncomfortable, but he believes it’s necessary right now.

“It’s uncomfortable to me to spend hours a day wearing a face covering but when I go out that’s exactly what I do and I think that even though its uncomfortable, our folks understand it’s important,” Dr. Mackey said.

The Alabama Department of Education ordered 2.5 million washable and reusable masks for schools and is in the process of shipping them to school districts. Mackey says this will provide about three masks for each student and staff member.

We told you earlier this week that many teachers statewide have concerns about the upcoming school year. An Alabama Education Association survey finds that 65% of teachers, staff and administrators are very uncomfortable returning to their school buildings.

“They’ve got to be cautious. They’ve got to be concerned about the health and welfare of their students and their own health and welfare too. I would say we’ve all have to be very mindful about following the rules, doing the best we can to organize our classrooms so that we can maintain social distancing,” Mackey said.

Ivey urges districts to plan a phased approach to put students back in school. Both she and Dr. Mackey are also concerned about learning gaps. He says it may take years to dig out from under this to get students back up where they should be.

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