MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency following the state’s confirmation of a second case of the coronavirus, this one in Jefferson County.
Ivey said from March 18 through April 6, all public K-12 schools will be closed to help stem the spread of the illness. This order does not pertain to private schools.
Officials said the closure was not being instituted immediately because they want to be able to give parents time to find daycare services.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said there were no confirmed cases in schools, but added officials do not want to see the virus spreading in that way.
The governor’s emergency declaration allows healthcare facilities to invoke their emergency operation plans and allows for school systems to seek relief from having to fulfill lost student or employee days missed from local school calendars.
Some school systems are already preparing to head into spring break, which means the extended closures will increase the number of days some children won’t have access to a lunchtime meal.
Asked about how those kids would be fed since many depend on free or reduced lunches from their local school, the state says it’s working on a waiver with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for communities that have high poverty rates.
There are issues with distribution and it’s unclear when meals would begin, but families would be able to come to the school and pick up the meals.
The Alabama Department of Public Health will open a call center starting Saturday for COVID-19 questions regarding testing and how to connect to providers. The number is 1-888-264-2256. This is not a medical helpline.