MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - While many schools are making plans to reopen this fall in the middle of a pandemic, one state lawmaker believes the burden to open safely is heavy for some schools in rural areas because they lack certain necessities to open safely.
State Senator Bobby Singleton says a revised plan submitted to the governor fails to address how all schools can open under equal conditions.
Earlier this week the governor announced that all state schools will share $170 million for wellness grants and technology for remote learning. But, Singleton says schools in the rural areas need more, like free-standing nursing stations to isolate sick students and WiFi.
“It’s a balancing act because, still, they’ve got to go out and find a system that’s going to work to allow children to connect to the internet,” said Singleton.
Each school system is expected to receive $100,000 for computers to help with virtual learning. They will also get $70,000 to fund health care needs like nurses salaries, COVID-19 testing, and temperature screening equipment.
But Singleton says the money doesn’t go far enough for rural communities, especially in school systems that may not have regular nurses at school or nursing stations which Singleton wanted to see more all schools.
“The school is some of the largest employers in some of these communities and these are some of the biggest crowds that will gather together of these kids go into a school,” said Singleton. “COVID still exist. We don’t have a vaccine. It is bound to happen somewhere and we need to make sure people are safe.”
Singleton says he will continue to make an appeal to the governor to do more for the state’s rural school systems that are, in some cases, behind other schools.
The $170 million for schools will come from the CARES Act.