By Faye Gaston

The Alabama Department of Education announced it has ordered 2.5 million facial coverings (masks) for the school students (kindergarten through grade 12).

This means about three per staff and three per student for the fall return to the classroom. They are washable and reusable.

The Department will not make wearing them a requirement.

There is not a statewide facial covering mandate. Local school systems will determine if masks are required.

There was consultation between the Alabama Department of Public Health and/or the local public health officials and local elected officials.

According to State Superintendent Eric Mackey, decisions on times to reopen schools and guidelines for schools will be left up to the local school boards.

Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some school systems have already released plans that include mandated masks.

One system 's policy is, "if you move, you mask", meaning to wear them on the school bus, when moving around the classroom or going through the halls or common areas.

"The system stated "the safest practice is to have your child wear a mask over mouth and nose at all times".

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