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Mackey outlines phased plan to reopen schools

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama public schools closed because of the coronavirus could bring some students back in June as part of a phased reopening before the next full school year, the state’s top official for K-12 schools said.

Children 13 and older could return to campus in groups of 10 or fewer people for athletic practice and possibly summer school starting June 8, Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey said during an online Q&A session with Alabama Association of School Boards Executive Director Sally Smith.

Younger students could get the go-ahead to return for summer literacy camps as early as July 6, and band and athletic practices could start in early August, he said.

But Mackey warned that the timeline was tentative and dependent on the impact of the virus.

“We may move forward, and then we may have to retract,” he said.

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As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 7,700 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the state, according to state health data. Alabama’s death toll from the virus was at least 289.

Some cities in the state on Saturday eased restrictions that had been in place since the global crisis began. Fairhope Pier in Baldwin County was among other venues that opened for the first time in weeks due to Gov. Kay Ivey’s “safer at home” order, which allowed reopenings of some businesses in a limited way.

Mackey said he has asked superintendents that planned to start the next school year in early August to consider doing so at the end of August instead. But he does not anticipate that students, teachers or parents will have to wear masks. He also warned that educators will face trauma and mental health issues they haven’t seen before.

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