MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBMA) — As COVID-19 cases rise in Alabama, three state senators made a plea for the state board of education to adopt a new plan to re-open schools.
A group of three bi-partisan senators presented a reopening plan to the state school board Tuesday, a plan that was crafted by the Alabama School Nurses Association.
Sen. Jim McClendon (R- Springville), Sen. Bobby Singleton (D- Greensboro) and Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R- Vestavia Hills) say this plan would provide a uniform safety policy across every public school, instead of leaving decisions up to local school boards.
“The feds are going to pay for it,” McClendon told the board. “It’s not costing anybody a dime.”
“Local school boards don’t want that on their hands that a child came and a child died and or they took COVID home and their grandmother died from it,” Singleton said. “That’s on us. But it’s up to us to be leaders and think this thing all the way through and not just throw it on locals.”
They're pushing a plan that includes having a nurse at every school, buying technology to quickly take everyone's temperatures every day, and building nursing stations at every school. Those stations would include an isolation room that runs on a separate HVAC unit.
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“It can’t be like one superintendent who told me , yes we’ve got a room. It’s got a curtain across the door. It doesn’t work,” said McClendon. “Do you want to get on an airplane where someone has small box and they’re recirculating the air? That’s’ what we’re talking about- keeping these children in the same HVAC with all the other children and teachers.”
Board members expressed concerns, including trouble finding nurses.
“The buildings might be gorgeous, but if we don’t have the nurses to be available across the field, there is no equity,” one board member said.
“Many of our nurses are already stretched very very thin before the virus ever started,” another expressed.
Governor Kay Ivey asked the state superintendent to review the senators’ proposal. She asked him for a plan by Friday and a request for money from the Cares Act.
“We have the money to do it,” Ivey said. “What we need is a request of how to spend the money to address what safeguards will protect our students and faculty, etc.”
Ivey said plan proposed by the nurse's association is estimated to cost $156 million.
“The cares funding act has money available to cover how we reopen our schools,” Ivey added. “The question before us is what elements are needed to reopen our schools safely.”
“Maybe it’s some of Dr. Mackys plan,” Ivey added. “Maybe it’s some of the senators’ plan. But let’s come and get back to specifics of what it is we want to be sure happens as we safely reopen our schools.”