RICHMOND, Va. — All Virginia K-12 schools have been ordered to close for two weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the state.
Governor Ralph Northam gave the order on Friday. Schools must close from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 27, at minimum.
The number of coronavirus cases in Virginia increased from 17 to 30 within a day. Seven of those cases are in James City County and two are in Virginia Beach.
“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.”
Northam declared a state of emergency on Thursday, which will ease regulatory requirements and ensure continued access to critical service for Virginians.
You can read more about Northam's order for the state public schools and get information on coronavirus response efforts in Virginia here.
Nildivette Soto, a Virginia Beach woman, said she's helping her nieces with arrangements. They're enrolled in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Soto said she supports the decision to close schools.
"I'm very happy with that, because it’s more safe for the families and children and parents and whole family," said Soto.
Virginia Department of Education officials are working closely with school divisions and the Department of Social Services to ensure students who qualify for free or reduced lunch programs are able to access those programs while schools are closed.
The Department of Education will issue guidance and memos to superintendents across the Commonwealth to provide specifics about the continuity of education, school nutrition, and updated public health guidelines.