Alabama

Montgomery Public Schools board Vice President Claudia Mitchell and board President Clare Weil speak during a protest at the MPS central office in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, which was the first day of in-person classes after nine weeks of virtual learning because of the coronavirus. (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

Montgomery: Thousands of students across the state who’ve spent the coronavirus pandemic in virtual classrooms are returning to traditional instruction despite safety concerns and continuing school shutdowns linked to COVID-19. Schools in Jefferson County began allowing elementary students to return to class full time Monday, and additional systems that have offered online classes will reopen buildings on a full-time basis through next week. Walter Gonsoulin, the Jefferson County superintendent, said the system planned to stay open unless there is a state or national mandate requiring a shutdown. As public schools reopened Tuesday in Montgomery, a group of teachers and school workers who contend the system lacks an adequate safety plan held a small protest outside the central office. In Tuscaloosa, where classes resume Monday, social distancing won’t always be possible, spokeswoman Lesley Bruinton told WBMA-TV.

Alaska

Juneau: The state Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling eliminating witness requirements for absentee ballots for the general election. Last week, Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby ruled enforcement of the witness requirements during the coronavirus pandemic “impermissibly burdens the right to vote.” She waited to put the order into effect, to allow the high court to weigh in. Laura Fox, an attorney for the state, had asked the Alaska Supreme Court to keep in place the witness requirements, arguing that a change in rules, when voting is already underway, “will cause confusion and distrust.” “This is telling the voters, yeah, we know you have all of these printed materials saying that you have to do it one way but … just ignore that,” she said. Justice Susan Carney responded: “Isn’t that the message, ‘Ignore it?’ How hard is that?”

Arizona

Phoenix: Recent updates showed a decline in new coronavirus cases at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University as of Monday. Meanwhile, Grand Canyon University continued to see cases rise since resuming in-person classes last month. ASU reported 63 new cases among students and two new cases among employees within the past week. Data reflects a 2.4% positivity rate since Aug. 1. A positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread is under control. GCU reports a total of 70 COVID-19 cases within the past two weeks, with 66 students and four employees. Northern Arizona University reported 79 active cases among its on- and off-campus students as of Friday, a decrease of 48 cases from last week. Data shows a steady decrease in positive COVID-19 tests at the University of Arizona and a 0.5% positivity rate.

Arkansas

Little Rock: The number of coronavirus patients in the state’s hospitals has once again hit a record high, with 608 people hospitalized Monday, health officials said.