Gov. Ivey extends Safer at Home order, mandates masks until Aug. 31

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

 MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference from the state capitol in Montgomery on Wednesday, July 29, and extended the current Safer at Home order until Aug. 31, while also extending the mask mandate for the state until that same day at 5 p.m.

In addition to the extension, Ivey encouraged all schools to start back in person this fall, while also requiring all schools to have students and employees between second grade and college to wear masks when possible.

“These decisions are not easy and they are certainly not fun and there is no way in the world you are ever going to make everyone happy 100 percent of the time,” Ivey said. “While no one enjoys wearing a mask, I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe we are making process in this arena. We must remain vigilant if we are going to get our kids back in school and keep our economy open, and wearing a mask can’t hurt, but it sure can help.”

Ivey said she wanted to encourage every superintendent across the state to have kids back in the classroom this fall, saying some might should reevaluate the decision to go virtual.

“While I respect those districts that have elected to go to virtual classrooms, I feel with all my heart that a slide will come by keeping our kids at home, especially if there are other options. And that slide will have a dramatic, negative impact on Alabama’s future. Nothing is set in concrete, and if the COVID-19 situation in your county or community permits, you should be looking to phase back into in-person classrooms if possible.”

Ivey said that the mask requirement for students and teachers may be an added burden for teachers, but that teachers must be taken care of as well.

“Just as we are focused on creating a safe and healthy environment for our students, it’s also important that we take care of our teachers as well,” Ivey said. “Other than our parents, one of the most important persons in a child’s life is that teacher of that child. And many of our students and their families rely on school for more than just classroom activities. School is that safe place where many of our children get their healthiest meal of the day, and where they are loved and encouraged as well as taught.

“As a former school teacher myself and as president of the state school board, I’m telling you we need to do everything we can to get our kids back in the classroom as soon as possible.”

Local school systems in Shelby County, including Alabaster, Shelby County and Pelham, will be supplying face shields/coverings for teachers and are asking guardians to supply masks to the student.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris also reiterated how important facemasks are for the start back to school and for the state.

“I know people don’t like being told what to do, I don’t either, but I do believe it’s the right thing to do,” Harris said. “I know early on we had mixed messages, but today, there is no argument about whether these are effective. Please let me ask all Alabamians to continue to wear them. I’ve been so encouraged to see so many who are wearing these and who are following the rules that we ask them to follow.”

In addition to schools, Ivey said we don’t need to close businesses if at all possible so people can earn a living and our economy can continue to improve.

The update came with 81,572 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus statewide since the outbreak began back on March 13.

In Shelby County, there have now been 2,784 confirmed cases, while nine of the last 10 days have seen less than 70 cases with three of the last four have featured 50 new cases or less after a stretch of days in previous weeks with more than 80 new cases.