Governor orders all public schools closed for 2 weeks

Posted at 2:32 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 18:18:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered all public schools (K-12) to close for at least the next two weeks.

The hope being, school closures will help slow the spread of COVID-19. “We are taking this action to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible, and to minimize exposure to COVID-19,” said Governor Northam. “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. This is a fluid and fast-changing situation. We will do everything possible to ensure that students who rely on school nutrition programs continue to have access to meals, and that the disruption to academics is as minimal as possible.”

Schools will close from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, at a minimum.

Many schools in Central Virginia already announced closures for that time period. The Virginia Department of Education will work with school divisions to make sure students in need will continue getting meals.

“We recognize this decision places burdens on many of our parents and families, especially for those who rely on school nutrition programs for access to healthy food for their children,” Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said. “However, we believe closing Virginia schools is in the Commonwealth’s best interest as we seek to stop the spread of COVID-19. Virginia will continue to explore and implement innovative approaches to provide meals to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch during this closure.”

School officials are also working to minimize disruptions to instructional time.

“We are committed to help divisions address all the implications of these closures and will seek to provide each division with maximum flexibility to address local needs as they arise, especially as it relates to make-up days," Dr. James Lane, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said.