Oregon, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, DC & Maryland close all schools for several weeks

Michigan:

Governor Whitmer Announces Statewide Closure of All K-12 School Buildings; School building closures will last Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that in order to slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan, she is ordering the closure of all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, to students starting Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. School buildings are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 6. 

As of tonight, the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is 12. 

“This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families.” 

“Closing our K-12 school buildings is the responsible choice that will minimize the risk of exposure for children, educators, and families and mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” said Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice. “The Department of Education will continue to work closely with our partners in state government to help our students and educators in each school district get through this time. This is about protecting the most people in Michigan.” 

Governors across the country, including Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andy Beshear (D-KY), and Larry Hogan (R-MD), have taken similar steps to close schools and ensure the protection of children and families in their states. 

“Closing our school buildings is the smart thing and the right thing to do for the public’s health,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our four COVID-19 task forces to ensure we protect our children, our families, and our communities.” 

Kentucky (apparently in Kentucky the governor can only "recommend" school closures, not actually order them?)

Gov. Beshear Recommends Public, Private Schools Ceasing In-Person Classes in Response to COVID-19

  • Two new positive tests in Fayette, Jefferson counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 12, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear recommended that all school superintendents consider ceasing in-person classes for an extended period of time beginning Monday, March 16, to help control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in communities across Kentucky.

“With advice from Dr. Steven Stack and others, this coming Monday, we are recommending that Kentucky’s public and private schools cease in-person classes for at least the next two weeks,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is a big and necessary step and announcing it gives our superintendents, teachers and parents the time to prepare. It is important for children to go to school tomorrow so they can get the resources they need for the next couple of weeks.”

Gov. Beshear said while children seem to be relatively safe from the virus, they are able to spread it and we are taking the steps necessary to protect all Kentuckians.

As of March 12 at 5 p.m. ET, Gov. Beshear indicated that Kentucky had two new positive tests, one confirmed positive from Fayette County and a presumptive positive from Jefferson County. Both are believed to be isolated, one at home and one at a hospital. Twenty-seven cases were tested today, but not all results were back by the 5 p.m. news conference. Gov. Beshear said the Commonwealth also now has three labs running tests, which include LabCorp, University of Louisville and the state lab.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday, three public school districts already were closed – Harrison County, Owen County and Danville Independent – and another two had announced they were closing Friday. Two more school districts, plus the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf, had announced they would be closing Monday.

While the planned time of re-opening the districts has varied slightly, most districts have announced April 13 as their planned first day back for students.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday, three public school districts already were closed – Harrison County, Owen County and Danville Independent – and another two had announced they were closing Friday. Two more school districts, plus the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf, had announced they would be closing Monday.

While the planned time of re-opening the districts has varied slightly, most districts have announced April 13 as their planned first day back for students.

Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown said he strongly supports Gov. Beshear’s recommendation that all schools close beginning Monday, March 16, in order to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

“I want to thank the Governor, Dr. Stack and others in the administration that have been working tirelessly over the past few days to ensure that we take a proactive approach to this issue based on science and research,” Brown said.

School districts may choose to utilize the Kentucky Department of Education’s Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program for these days if they have been approved to do so by KDE. NTI instruction is an option and is not required. However, those using NTI will not have that day count as a day that must be made-up at the end of the year. Non-NTI districts may also choose to provide online or hard copy enrichment activities even if not providing NTI instruction.

“I am asking the Kentucky Board of Education to consider a blanket statewide waiver for all districts to utilize NTI instruction even if those districts were not approved prior to this school year,” Brown said. “So far this week, dozens of districts have submitted applications and requests for a waiver to utilize NTI instruction if closed as a result of COVID-19.”

Brown also said, on Monday, he asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grant a waiver to Kentucky to permit school districts to provide non-congregate feeding during school closures. If granted by USDA, this will enable districts to be reimbursed for meals that they choose to serve to students on school closure days.

Tomorrow, Brown will convene the Leadership Team at KDE all day to provide direct consultation to superintendents and other education partners with questions about school operations affected by COVID-19. KDE will be developing a public Q & A document related to these operational issues.

Channeling the Governor’s advice to the Commonwealth over the past few weeks, Brown said he will continue to remind our K-12 education community to follow the 3 C’s: Stay calm, you are leaders within your communities, be clean, practice and promote hand-washing, and cooperate, continue working with your local health department partners and other local leaders.

Kentucky has approximately 650,000 public school students who attend classes in 1,466 schools (172 school districts).

Thursday, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), showed infection data from the counties around Seattle to explain why Kentucky is taking aggressive steps.

“If we reduce our social contact with each other by about 25% the infection line drops dramatically,” Dr. Stack said. “And if we do not contact each other at all you don’t have an epidemic.”

Gov. Beshear, Dr. Stack, Kentucky Department of Education Interim Commission Kevin Brown and Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, briefed Kentuckians at the Capitol on Thursday evening on the latest developments and the response of state and local government.

Beginning weeks before the virus was found in the Commonwealth, state and local officials collaborated to prepare for COVID-19 and are now working together to respond.

Gov. Beshear has taken decisive action to prepare and respond to COVID-19. On Friday, immediately after confirmation of the first case, Gov. Beshear declared a state of emergency to ensure the state has every resource available to respond. On Saturday, he issued an executive order to prohibit price gouging. On Monday, the Governor issued an executive order to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees. The Governor is also telling providers to expand their network to patients that may go outside their normal providers.

Tuesday, Gov. Beshear announced strong actions to protect the state’s most vulnerable populations by limiting visitation to senior care and long-term care facilities. Gov. Beshear also signed an executive order to allow pharmacies to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days to ensure those vulnerable communities or those who need to self-isolate will have their needed prescriptions. His action will also allow, if necessary, pharmacies to operate at locations other than those designated on their permits to make sure people have access to necessary medication.

The State Health Operations Center is activated at level one – fully activated – and the State Emergency Operations Center is also activated.

Ohio:

Governor DeWine Announces School Closures

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, he has ordered that all kindergarten through 12th grade schools close for a period of several weeks.  

Beginning at the conclusion of the school day on Monday, March 16, all K-12 schools will close to students through Friday, April 3. This order includes all public, community, and private K-12 schools in the state, but does not apply to Ohio’s childcare system such as daycare centers and home-based childcare providers.

During this extended period of closure, schools should work to provide education through alternative means and school district leadership may make decisions on whether to use their school buildings. Staff members should continue to report to school as directed by administrators.

"We want to thank educators and administrators for the extraordinary efforts they will take to continue offering services during this time of national crisis," said Governor DeWine. 

Over the next 72 hours, the Ohio Department of Education will develop guidance for K-12 schools to ensure the continuity of important student services, including a strategy for providing meals.

Maryland:

State Superintendent Salmon Announces Temporary Closure of Maryland Public Schools

BALTIMORE –  This afternoon, during Governor Larry Hogan’s press conference, Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, directed that effective Monday, March 16th, through Friday, March 27th, all public schools in Maryland will be closed. All scheduled school-sanctioned travel for students and staff will also be cancelled effective immediately.

“It is crucial that we take immediate measures to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in school communities around the State,” said Dr. Karen Salmon. “During the time of school closure, all public school buildings and school buses should be cleaned and disinfected to prevent spread of the virus upon the return of students and staff to school.”

Additionally, Dr. Salmon recommended that days previously scheduled for spring break be used for make-up days.  Administrators, faculty, staff, and parents/guardians should begin to immediately prepare for, and put into place, measures for the continuity of educational services during this prolonged period of school closure.

Plans regarding childcare services are being developed by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) at this time to ensure that the children of emergency services personnel (particularly those working in healthcare facilities) have access to childcare throughout the prolonged period of school closure. MSDE immediately started working to ensure that vital services, such as the provision of meals to students, will continue to be provided throughout the duration of this period.

Incoming information will be continually evaluated as it becomes available to better inform decisions about proactive school closures. State and local officials will work together to continue to reassess needs for school closures on an ongoing basis.  Local school officials should remain in consistent communication with local health department officials regarding cases of COVID-19 that potentially could involve members of the school community.

UPDATE 3/13: Add Oregon to the list:

Governor Kate Brown Announces Statewide School Closure for Students in Oregon from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31

SALEM — In consideration of staffing challenges and health concerns due to the public health threat of coronavirus, Governor Kate Brown today announced a statewide closure of Oregon K-12 schools from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31.

“Schools are critical institutions that provide important services for all our students, but especially our most vulnerable, and during this crisis I have worked hard to ensure those critical services continue. 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,” said Governor Brown.

“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. Schools are experiencing critical shortages in staff, and superintendents are concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk such as those over age 60 and those with underlying medical issues.

“I want to be very clear: sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus. While children are home, when at all possible, they should not be in the care of older adults or those with underlying health issues that are most at-risk from COVID-19.

“This is a trying time for our community and I am reluctant to increase the burden on families who are already struggling to adapt to and stay healthy during this crisis. However, we are left with little choice in light of school districts’ staff capacity and operational concerns. I want to thank all of the teachers and school employees who have worked hard to keep our schools open until now.”

Per the Governor’s directives and with the support of the Oregon Department of Education and the state’s Early Learning Division, during the closure:

  • School districts are directed to develop plans for returning to school that accommodate ongoing impacts of coronavirus. Staff should utilize the final two days of March to finalize plans for operating schools under updated measures, with students expected to return on Wednesday, April 1.
  • Districts are tasked with developing plans to continue nutrition services during the closure. 
  • The Oregon Department of Education will examine the impact the closure will have on instructional time. 
  • School districts will ensure adequate cleaning supplies for increased cleaning protocols following the closure.
  • The Early Learning Division will support child care programs and will work to identify resources to support child care needs for our most vulnerable families, as well as health care professionals and first responders.

“We are in close communication with school districts across the state, and they will be communicating regularly with their school communities throughout the closure period,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “Due to the evolving nature of this crisis, these timelines will be reevaluated in late March in consultation with school administrators.”

Governor Brown will be available to answer questions in a teleconference tomorrow, March 13, at 11:00 am with state agency directors and superintendents. A teleconference number will be provided in a morning advisory.

Members of the media who plan to call in or need additional information should contact Kate Kondayen at Kate Kondayen or 503-689-0248.

UPDATE 3/13: Add the District of Columbia:

Mayor Bowser Adjusts the District of Columbia Government’s Operating Status

(Washington, DC) – Mayor Muriel Bowser will adjust the District of Columbia Government’s operating status beginning Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31, to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

At a media availability at 12:00 p.m. today, Mayor Bowser will discuss the following directives:

  • Starting Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31, the District of Columbia Government will operate under an agency-specific telework schedule, with the intent to continue to deliver essential services and to keep critical systems and services operating. Some government operations will be performed fully remotely, while other services will continue to be performed at public buildings, but under modified operations. Employees are invited to an Employee Telephone Townhall at 10 a.m. this morning to hear more about the District of Columbia’s operating status. The District of Columbia Government plans to resume normal operations on Wednesday, April 1.
  • Starting Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31, DC Public Schools (DCPS) will implement distance learning. Students will not report to schools during that time.
    • Monday, March 16: Teachers and staff will report to work to plan for distance learning.
    • Tuesday, March 17 – Friday, March 20 and Monday, March 23: DCPS will take its Spring Break for students, teachers, and staff. There will be no longer be a Spring Break period in April.
    • Tuesday, March 24 – Friday, March 27 and Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31: Students will participate in distance learning.
    • Wednesday, April 1: Schools will resume operations.
  • Charter schools are advised to conform with this directive and reopen on Tuesday, April 1; however, teacher professional development, remote learning preparation, and spring break determinations may vary by local education agency.
  • The District will provide meals to students on weekdays from Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meal sites will be posted on coronavirus.dc.gov.
  • DC Public Libraries will close on Monday, March 16 and will reopen on Wednesday, April 1.