Hatton Elementary School in Colbert County is moving to virtual schooling after COVID-19 cases among students and staff crept above the system’s planned threshold for the change.
In a letter to parents on Friday, posted to the school’s Facebook page, principal Nick Cottrell said that because the school reached more than 18 percent infected or quarantined, the school must close for 10 days.
“It is highly recommended that you practice social distancing and refrain from social gatherings for the next 10 days to eliminate the spread of the COVID virus,” Cottrell wrote.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday issued a state of emergency due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 delta variant, but said there would be no more mask mandates, for the public or in schools, or closures of any kind.
Without a statewide order, some school systems have chosen to require masks, while many others have decided to make them optional for students and staff. Hatton Elementary’s school district, Colbert County Schools, does not require masks for students or staff.
Alabama hospital ICUs on Friday were at 98 percent capacity, and there were 48 children with COVID-19 hospitalized statewide, up from 33 on Monday. More and more children are becoming infected and hospitalized with the more contagious delta strain, state medical experts have said in recent days.
“It doesn’t do us very much good to launch into a school year, only to have to stop in-person learning because the viruses is running crazy throughout the school,” said Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of UAB and Children’s of Alabama’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, speaking to reporters Wednesday.
Kimberlin said the delta variant is “rapidly spreading among children” and school systems need to heed the recommendations to enact mask mandates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society and a group of Alabama pediatricians who wrote a letter urging schools to require universal masking.