As COVID-19 Coronavirus cases increase across the state of North Carolina and world, Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all K-12 schools in North Carolina to close for two weeks, effective Monday, March 16, 2020 per an executive order. This includes before-and after-school programs.
The Executive Order also bans gatherings of more than 100 people. North Carolina currently has 23 people in 12 counties who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The ban on gatherings does not include airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and spaces where people may be in transit. Office environments, restaurants, factories, or retail or grocery stores are also excluded.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education plans to schedule a meeting to vote to return to the original school calendar.
The Executive Order directs all North Carolina public schools to close beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 for at least two weeks. The two-week period allows time for North Carolina to further understand the impact of the Coronavirus across the state and develop a plan for continued learning for students should a longer closure be needed. Governor Cooper made the decision in consultation with State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, and North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.
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In addition to closing schools, the Executive Order prohibits mass gatherings that bring together more than 100 people in a single room or space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, or other confined indoor or outdoor space, including parades, fairs and festivals. Violations of the order are punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Governor Cooper has appointed an Education and Nutrition Working Group to develop a plan to ensure that children and families are supported while schools are closed. The working group will focus on issues including nutrition, health, childcare access for critical health care and other front-line workers and learning support for children at home.
Governor Cooper released this statement:
We do not have the luxury of a wait-and-see approach. These are hard decisions but they are necessary so we can learn more about the virus. We do not want any regrets in the rear view mirror, and I am guided by one objective – doing what we must to keep people from getting sick and to make sure that those who do can get excellent care."