‘Back to School’: Mackey talks Alabama schools’ mask requirement, teacher COVID-19 concerns

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — During CBS 42’s special series, “Back to School, What You Need to Know,” Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey spoke about Gov. Kay Ivey’s requirement for staff and students in second grade and above to wear masks at school as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state during the pandemic.

“Absolutely it’s feasible. We’ve had classes going on all summer and students have been using masks. They’re not comfortable. They’re not comfortable for any of us. But students understand that this is important. They want to be good citizens. They want to keep the adults around them safe as well as themselves. So, we think it’s a very good thing to do. We appreciate the governor’s support in making this a statewide stance. We are going to continue to work with all of our schools,” Mackey said.

There is a provision in the order that doesn’t require students to wear masks at all times.

“If students are in a classroom, and they can maintain six feet between one another, they do not have to have a mask on,” Mackey explained.

With the state issuing the order, Mackey clarified that the state would not take part in deciding how it’s enforced if a student refuses to wear a mask. He said it will be left up to individual districts to determine how to carry out the order at school.

Mackey also addressed teacher concerns.

“If they’re healthy teachers and they’re not in a high risk category, do what I’m doing and follow the protocols. Social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, continuing to keep our mind on doing the things that our public health officers are telling us to do,” he said. “We are going to be, throughout this next year, balancing our health and wellness versus the work that has to be done.”


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