States Begin Closing Schools in Response to COVID-19
Additionally, the coronavirus has prompted the shuttering of several large urban school districts.
UPDATE MARCH 16, 2020: The National Education Association is calling on all schools across the country to close.
“NEA’s primary concern remains the health, safety, and welfare of students, families, and educators, as well as the health and safety of the broader community. After reviewing the latest CDC guidance regarding COVID-19 and school closures, NEA is calling on all schools to immediately close for at least two weeks,” the association said in a statement.
UPDATE MARCH 16, 2020: Students, teachers and principals at New York City schools have been told not to report to their campuses today, and the district is moving towards a remote learning model. The announcement, which was made yesterday by the New York City Department of Education, stated that school buildings are scheduled to reopen to students following spring recess on Monday, April 20, 2020.
Grab-and-Go breakfast and lunch will be available at the entrance of every building from 7:30 am-1:30 pm. Any student can pick up breakfast and lunch at any school building Monday and until further notice.
Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and the District of Columbia are responding to concerns surrounding the coronavirus by closing schools in those states for several weeks.
In Michigan, where the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 is 12, all public and private schools will be closed starting Monday, March 16 for three weeks, reports Fox 2 Detroit. Ohio schools will be closed for three weeks, while K-12 campuses in Maryland will be closed for two. The governor of Kentucky has also recommended closing all schools in the state for two weeks, reports USA Today.
Additionally, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas have shuttered their K-12 schools in hopes of fighting the coronavirus.
As of Friday morning, at least 18,700 U.S. schools have closed or are scheduled to close, affecting 8.1 million students, reports Education Week.
Officials in many states are working to ensure that students will still be provided meals during the closures. Many K-12 students rely on school-provided lunches for their nutritional needs, reports NPR.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine told campuses they should “work to provide education through alternative means and school district leadership may make decisions on whether to use their school buildings.”
Washington D.C. is shifting its spring break, which was originally scheduled for April, to next week. It will then practice distance learning through the end of March.
In response to COVID-19, other states are also considering switching to online classes, including North Carolina, reports ABC 11. The challenge with distance learning is that a significant portion of households don’t have access to high-speed internet. In North Carolina, for example, 24% of its households are lacking access to these types of networks.
The move to close schools and/or move to distance-learning formats follows decisions made earlier this week by many U.S. institutions of higher education to cancel in-person classes, switch to online class formats or make preparations for such actions.
Below is the announcement made this morning from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the nation, about its decision to close its schools starting Monday:
The public health crisis created by the coronavirus is not something any of us could reasonably have expected to happen, and we’re in uncharted waters as we work to prevent the spread of the illness. We have been following the guidance of public health experts on how we can keep all who are part of our school community — students, staff, family members and visitors — safe in the midst of a growing health crisis. We are now at a point where the balance has shifted and the appropriate path is to close schools. We are taking this step to keep our school communities safe. Effective Monday, March 16, we will close all Los Angeles Unified public schools for two weeks while we evaluate the appropriate path forward. 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.
This is a difficult decision, but necessary, as we try to slow the spread of the virus. Los Angeles Unified serves a high-needs population, and our schools provide a social safety net for our children. The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly.
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.
For some students it will be continuing the lesson plan and instruction they have already been working on with their classroom teacher. For others it will be engaging with the curriculum and lessons which we and PBS SoCal will be providing. And for some, it will be a combination of the two.
While our special education centers will also close, students and families will continue to have access to services from the regional centers they currently rely on.
The Family Resource Centers will open on Wednesday, March 18 and will be staffed weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with trained professionals. Children will be able to have a warm meal, engage with their peers and pursue their different studies. And they’ll be safe.
We are developing a family resource guide that we will provide to you before Monday, to help answer your questions.
I want to thank all on our staff who are working tirelessly to help our students and planning for them to remain connected to the school community. We know the adults on a school campus are an important part of a student’s life and will do our best to try and maintain that connection. All employees should rest assured knowing they will still be paid during this time, even if they are not directly involved in providing services to students.
And to our families, we thank you for your patience and trust as we work together to maintain some sense of normalcy in these difficult times. These next two weeks will be difficult and we are not certain what lies ahead after that. You have my unwavering commitment to do all we can do to help you and your children.
We will continue to do our best to keep you informed. Facts and circumstances may change quickly so we encourage you to check our website lausd.net regularly, my Twitter @AustinLASchools or call the following phone hotlines.
For families: (213) 443-1300
For school leaders: (213) 241-2000
For employees: (213) 241-2700
Read More Articles Like This… With A FREE Subscription
Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!