States tell schools: Prepare for quick coronavirus closures

Decision to close schools has pitted superintendents against governors and other elected officials
By: | March 12, 2020
Administrators anticipating coronavirus closures as COVID-19 spreads are developing solutions for online education and feeding students who rely on school meals. (gettyimages.com: wwing)Administrators anticipating coronavirus closures as COVID-19 spreads are developing solutions for online education and feeding students who rely on school meals. (gettyimages.com: wwing)

Ohio, Maryland and Michigan became the first states to shut down all schools late Thursday to try to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to USA Today.

And Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that all K-12 public schools will be closed through the end of March, OPB reported.

Concerns over coronavirus compelled Kentucky’s governor to tell all schools to prepare to close with “as little as 72 hours notice,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

State lawmakers were to extend to 20 days the length of time schools can shift to online education, as long as their distance learning plans are approved, according to the Courier-Journal. 

Elsewhere, New York City announced its first two coronavirus-related school closures, The New York Times reported.

The Bronx schools, which share a building, closed after a student tested positive for the virus, according to The Times. 


More from DA: Experts debate value of school closures


The building will be closed for cleaning for at least 24 hours while officials trace the student’s close contacts, The Times reported.

A decision to close schools has pitted superintendents against governors and other elected officials.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered three schools closed in New Rochell, but the superintendent, Laura Feijoo, has kept the rest of the district open, according to The Washington Post.

The debate over the impact that closing schools could have on the spread of COVID-19 continued.  Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the decision should depend the disease’s spread in a community, The Post reported.

Fauci said that if COVID-19 has spread little, there’s no point in closing, but waiting will not help, according to The Post.

Coronavirus creates equity concerns

In Texas, district officials anticipating district closures are figuring out how they will also feed students who rely on school meals.


More from DA: Coronavirus closures raise question of school meals


El Paso ISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera may pay hourly employees, such as custodians and bus drivers, to bring donated food to serve to students at a central location, The Texas Tribune reported.

“We might not be able to put them to work every day,” Cabrera told The Texas Tribune. “But since we don’t want any hourly workers to lose any pay, we’re working on how we can put them to work.”