Shelby County private schools, preschools, daycares to close March 18

As the total number of confirmed COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases increases to 36 in the state, with at least 20 of those cases in Jefferson County, the Alabama Department of Public Health has ordered all private, preschool and daycare facilities to close in the five counties surrounding Jefferson County, which includes Shelby County.

ADPH health officer Dr. Scott Harris announced during a press conference on Tuesday, March 17, that all private, preschool and daycare facilities with 12 or more children in Tuscaloosa, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Shelby counties are to close at the end of the business/school day on Wednesday, March 18, and not reopen until April 6. Hospitals with on-site child care facilities are exempt.

Ahead of the order by ADPH, School for Amazing Kids, a daycare that operates several locations throughout Shelby County, had announced plans to remain open and to restrict entry into their facilities.

“We are scanning temperatures and restricting entry into our schools,” read a statement posted on Facebook. “We’ve also increased all of our already stringent cleaning protocols. Though it wasn’t an easy decision, we’ve decided to stay open to serve our parents and our community. Many of our parents are first responders or medical professionals who don’t have a choice to go to work or stay home. It could jeopardize their livelihoods and the health of community if they aren’t able to go to work. We are constantly monitoring the new data as it becomes available and we are prepared to change directions if we need to.”

Kingwood Christian Child Development Center in Alabaster notified parents on Monday, March 16, that it would be closed from Thursday, March 19, through Friday, March 27. KCCDC intended to re-evaluate the situation in the coming days and communicate to parents no later than March 26 what the plan would be for the week of March 30 through April 3.

However, in light of the order given by the ADPH, the facilities have no choice but to close and remain closed until April 6.

Harris also issued the following guidelines for Blount, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties:

-Effective March 17 at 5 p.m., all gatherings of 25 people or more are prohibited, as well as gatherings of any size are where people cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from one another.

-Effective March 17 at 5 p.m., food service businesses (restaurants, bars and breweries) shall not permit on-site consumption of food or drink for one week. Online ordering and curbside pick-up encouraged.

-Effective March 18, all senior citizen centers and senior citizen gatherings shall be closed. Senior centers the provide meals are to ensure that curbside pickup or delivery for patrons.

-Effective immediately, nursing homes and long-term care facilities shall prohibit all visitors and nonessential personnel, except for compassionate care situations such as end-of-life care.

“It’s time for Alabamians to hunker down, to isolate themselves and to stay away from people,” Harris said. “It’s time to stay out of the public to the extent that you can.”

The orders issued by Harris mirror those enacted by Jefferson County’s health officer Dr. Mark Wilson on March 16. Harris referred to the directives handed down by Wilson as “excellent orders.” Harris did not rule out the possibility of these orders being adopted statewide.