Public schools to close for two weeks in face of new coronavirus
Gov. John Carney has directed all public schools in Delaware to close for two weeks to prepare for the potential spread of the new coronavirus.
Public schools, including charters, will close March 16 to 27.
During that time, Carney said the state will work with school leaders and public health experts to create a plan for students and educators as the outbreak continues.
Schools are directed to undertake a deep cleaning during the two-week period.
In a letter to district and charter leaders Friday, Carney acknowledged that the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) did not recommend closing the schools based on the current status of COVID-19 in the state and the move could "have negative effects for our children, and for parents who must workto support their families." But he said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution."
Carney noted many students rely on school meals for nutrition and other social services— and that the state will work with districts to plan for providing these services in the event of an extended closure.
"Delaware children deserve a world-class education, and ongoing access to services that are delivered in our schools each day," said Carney in the letter.
"Several days of closure may help with school decontamination and contact tracing investigations," he added. "Longer periods of closure can be part of a mitigation strategy for communities with substantial community spread of the virus."
The Sussex Technical School District released a statement Friday evening stating that high school students, Adult Education students, and 10-month staff should not report to school over the next two weeks—and that 12-month staff will be notified of their work schedule. District custodial staff will continue cleaning the campus.
“We thank our school community for their patience and understanding as we navigate this challenging and highly fluid situation,” said Sussex Tech Superintendent Stephen Guthrie in the statement. “We believe that this temporary closure is a good step forward in addressing family concerns and mitigating against future spread of the virus.”
The Diocese of Wilmington also announced Friday that all diocesan and parish Catholic schools and religious education programs in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore will be closing for two weeks, starting March 16. All Catholic Youth Ministry Sports events are cancelled until further notice.