SYLACAUGA, Ala. – In a joint press conference alongside state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, Gov. Kay Ivey announced today schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

All public and private schools have been closed since March 19. The school year was temporarily suspended last week due to COVID-19. Now, in-class learning has been canceled for the remainder of the school year.

“This decision has not been made lightly. However, the virus continues to spread,” said Ivey.

All sporting activities in the state have also been discontinued for the 2019-20 school year.

Distance learning will now be the new norm for most students across the state. “One of the things we are going to be able to offer is distance learning through online learning and digital platforms,” said Mackey. “We will also have take home packets as teachers, just old fashioned, make copies and send things home.”

Online courses should begin April 6 according to Ivey. Mackey said the school year should be completed no later than June 5.

Sylacauga City Schools has been using online-based learning for the last few years. According to superintendent Dr. Jon Segars, “all options are open” when it comes to assigning and completing assignments to finish by the June deadline.

“Sylacauga is a small enough place where we know our students [and their families],” said Segars. “We will work with families however we can to accomplish our goals.”

Segars said tests and quizzes can still be administered via Google Classroom, the school system’s preferred online education portal.

“[Sylacauga High School] is adept to doing distance learning,” said Segars. “[The students] are used to doing assignments at home and turning in assignments as if they were at school.” He said the bigger concern are the younger students that need additional guidance.

The Google Classroom-based learning program is available via tablets, computers, and even mobile phones. Segars said if there is a connection to the device, access to online work can — and should — be completed.

For the Class of 2020, days of walking down the halls and seeing friends between class is now a thing of the past…and it vanished ever so fast.

What about prom? What about graduation?

“We don’t want to take that away from our students. We are going to figure it out somehow, some way,” he said.

On the athletic side, Mackey said athletic seasons will not be completed. An official word will come from the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

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