Public schools in Virginia must remain closed “for the remainder of the academic year,” according to an order Monday from Gov. Ralph Northam.

Northam announced the closures, along with other measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, at a news conference Monday afternoon. He said the Virginia Department of Education will issue guidance this week that division superintendents will use to determine “how students will learn the information they were supposed to cover.”

“We are also working on waivers to relieve testing requirements and ensure students can graduate,” Northam said.

Northam had previously ordered that schools across the state, serving roughly 1.5 million students, close from March 16 through at least March 27. With the extension of that order Monday, Virginia joins Kansas in announcing that schools will be closed for the rest of the year. All but four states—Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa and Maine—are under mandated school closures, according to Education Week.

Locally, superintendents said they would send communication in the coming days about how students will continue learning during the extended closure.

“We understand that this announcement may generate a variety of questions and will require extensive communication in the coming days and weeks,” Caroline County Public Schools Superintendent Sarah Calveric said in a message to families. “Guidance will be provided from the Virginia Department of Education to school divisions within the next 24 hours regarding graduation requirements, standard and verified credits, continuity of instruction, grades, and special education services.”

“During such challenging times, let’s all remember that everyone has an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test. Remember, we are better together, even when apart,” Calveric’s statement continued.

Fredericksburg City Public Schools superintendent Marci Catlett said in a message to families that the division would not be able to answer questions immediately, but would communicate further information as the Virginia Department of Education sends its guidance.

“To the students, we love you,” Catlett said. “Number one, have no fear. Know the facts, stay well informed and maintain an varied routine. Number two, follow the instructions of our highly competent health providers, city officials and your parents and number three, remember the ‘4Ps’—preparedness, positivity, productivity and patience help to eliminate panic. As a community, we will persevere.”

In a message to parents, Stafford County Superintendent Scott Kizner said teachers and staff are working to provide quality online instructional material for students that would not add to what is already a stressful situation for families.

“I realize you may be working at home with disrupted work schedules. The computers you have may be needed for your own telework purposes. Your children will continue learning, and we are working through a transitional program over the next few weeks that will not cause overload or unnecessary anxiety to you and your child,” he said.

Adele Uphaus-Conner:

540/735-1973

auphaus@freelancestar.com

@flsadele

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