Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Seven US states extend school closures for the remainder of the year

When Covid-19 first appeared in the US many states temporarily closed schools, but with the pandemic spreading rapidly classrooms may remain empty for longer.

Coronavirus: Seven US states extend school closures for the remainder of the year
OLIVIER DOULIERY AFP

Seven states in the US have closed schools for the remainder of the year, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread rapidly across the nation. According to a tracker provided by John Hopkins University, Covid-19 has infected nearly 165,000 people in the United States, causing at least 3,000 deaths.

When the virus began to spread in the US, many states temporarily closed schools and provided means for classes to be taught online for the remainder of the pandemic, but with the number of cases rapidly increasing, several states have now decided to move ahead and closed school for the rest of the year.

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Arizona

Arizona was the most recent state to shut down the remainder of the school year when Governor Doug Ducey released a statement, followed by the announcement made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extending social distancing guidelines until April 30.

"In alignment with yesterday's updated federal guidance, today we are announcing the extension of school closures through the remainder of the year. Today's announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions,” Ducey wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account.

According to the tracker provided by John Hopkins University, Arizona has over 1,156 cases confirmed as well as at least 20 deaths.

Alabama

On March 26, Governor of Alabama Kay Ivey released a statement saying that all schools will be closed for the rest of the year. At first it was scheduled that classes would resume on April 6, but due to the circumstances all classes will be taught online now.

"Beginning at the start of school on April 6, 2020, all public K-12 schools shall implement a plan to complete the 2019-2020 school year using alternate methods of instruction as established by the State Superintendent of Education," Ivey said.

Ivey also confirmed that the state of Alabama will help those that don’t have access to the internet for online learning. This doesn’t apply to private schools, where decisions are made individually by private school administrators.

Currently there are at least 830 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Alabama and 12 deaths, based on the tracker of John Hopkins University.

Kansas

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced on March 17 that the state will be closing public and private K-12 schools for the rest of the year and that classes will be taught online. According to the tracker, there are at least 330 confirmed cases in Kansas and 7 deaths.

"The reality of this pandemic is that it cannot be controlled statewide if school buildings return to normal operations or if they respond inconsistently within our local communities," Kelly said during a statewide press conference.

New Mexico

On March 27, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujam Grishman announced that school closures would continue to expand through the rest of the year. There have been at least 237 confirmed cases and 2 deaths.

"My administration has made the very difficult decision, in close consultation with education and health leaders, to extend public school closures through the rest of the academic year," Grisham said in a statement.

Oklahoma

On March 25 the State board of Education voted to close down all public schools for the remainder of the year. According to the tracker, Oklahoma has over 428 confirmed cases and at least 16 deaths.

“I have faith in the commitment, innovation and creativity of Oklahoma educators and administrators. Many districts across our state have utilized online instruction already and likely will be able to hit the ground running. Other districts have significant technology limitations, while some might opt for instructional materials delivered to students. There will be a wide range of approaches and it will be far from ideal, but necessary as we embrace these changes and even sacrifice to protect the public health of our communities,” said Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

Virginia

On March 23 Governor Ralph Northam ordered all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the year. The different school districts in the state of Virginia will each decide how they want to continue teaching students. So far there are over 1,000 confirmed cases and at least 15 deaths.

Vermont

Governor Phil Scott instructed all schools in Vermont on March 26 to remain closed for the rest of the year and it is up to the school districts across the state to implement a continuity of learning plans for remote learning. According to the tracker, there are over 250 cases confirmed and at least 12 deaths.