Above: Governor Cooper’s briefing on the closure of public venues and schools.
WILMINGTON — Governor Roy Cooper announced this afternoon that, in the face of concerns over Covid-19, all public venues and all public K-12 schools will close starting Monday, March 16, and remain closed for at least two weeks.
Cooper was joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. The two agreed that the move was difficult but necessary. While North Carolina has seen 24 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), there have been no reports of community-spread (i.e. person to person transmission leading to a local outbreak).
Johnson said superintendents and IT directors from districts around the state have discussed utilizing distance learning.
Another concern was the ability of districts to continue providing school lunches, a service relied upon by many families. Johnson said superintendents would be given broad authority to “do what is best” for students.
Local school districts have had limited time to prepare and respond. Many questions remain, including how the closure will impact parents who may need to find childcare on very short notice.
Brunswick County Schools spokesperson Daniel Seamans said more information would be available tomorrow, but in the meantime issued the following statement:
In following the guidance of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Brunswick County Schools will be closed beginning Monday, March 16th, until March 30th, 2020. This is an evolving situation and we are dedicated to making sure students remain healthy and engaged during this time frame.
New Hanover County spokesperson Ann Gibson also released a statement on behalf of the district:
Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all K-12 schools to close for two weeks. The New Hanover County Public School System [NHCS] will be closed beginning Monday, March 16 through at least Friday, March 27. This includes all before and after-school programs.
NHCS leaders and key staff are meeting on Sunday, March 15 to discuss supplemental learning, staff leave, and other matters related to this school closure. Updates will be issued as they become available.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates on what the shutdown of schools and public venues will mean for Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties.