States shutting down all schools to slow coronavirus
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia, and the city of Los Angeles on Friday became the latest large school systems to shut down as officials try to slow coronavirus.
“First and foremost, my top priority as governor—and that of our education leaders— must be to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.
Schools will not be penalized for not meeting the 180-day school requirement and will be allowed to serve meals to low-income students “in a non-congregate setting, such as a drive-through or grab and go,” Wolf said.
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Virginia’s schools are closed for the next two weeks.
“I recognize this will pose a hardship on many families, but closing our schools for two weeks will not only give our staff time to clean and disinfect school facilities, it will help slow the spread of this virus,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement.
LAUSD, the nation’s second largest school system, will be closed for at least two weeks, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a video message on the district’s website
“Each student will have a plan which they will take home with them today and additional support will be provided to assist students as they transition to a different way of learning and teachers to a different way of teaching,” Beutner said. “While our school facilities will be closed, plans are in place for students to continue to learn during this time, and we will open 40 family resource centers to provide care for children if families need it.”
Pennsylvania’s schools will be closed for at least 10 days. In D.C., Maryland and Oregon, schools are closed for the next two weeks. New Mexico’s, Ohio and Michigan’s districts are shut until early April.
“So many of our families depend on school in order for parents to go to their jobs, and for students to access health care and receive nutrition assistance,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “However, I have heard from superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, and students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate schools due to workforce issues and student absences.”
Oregon’s schools are experiencing “critical shortages in staff,” and superintendents are concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk of experiencing severe illness fro COVID-19, Brown said.
“Closing our school buildings is the smart thing and the right thing to do for the public’s health,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health, said in a statement. “These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.”
On its website, D.C. public schools listed the schools where families can pick up meals during the closure.
The governors of Georgia and Kentucky recommended that schools and other facilities close.