Maryland will close all its public schools for two weeks in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, state Superintendent Karen Salmon announced Thursday afternoon.
All public schools will close from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, she said.
“All scheduled school-sanctioned travel for travel for students and staff will also be canceled, effective immediately,” said Salmon, who made the announcement during Gov. Larry Hogan’s scheduled news conference.
Ohio and Kentucky also said on Thursday that they are closing their public schools.
“It is crucial that we take immediate measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in school communities around the state,” Salmon said. “During the time of school closure, all public school buildings and school buses will be cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of the virus upon the return of students and staff to school.”
She recommended that days previously scheduled for spring break be used to make up the missed days.
She hinted that the school closure might be extended. She urged administrators, faculty, staff, parents and guardians “to immediately prepare for and to put into place measures for the continuity of educational services during a prolonged period of school closure.”
Salmon also said that Maryland State Department of Education is developing plans for child-care services to accommodate the children of emergency-services personnel — particularly those working in health-care facilities — during a prolonged school closure.
“We have started to work immediately to ensure that vital services, such as the provision of meals to students, will continue to be provided throughout the school closure,” Salmon said.
State and local officials will work together to continue to reassess needs for school closures on an ongoing basis, she said. She urged local school officials to remain “in consistent communication” with local health department officials regarding any cases of COVID-19.
Salmon said she was to speak with all 24 local school system superintendents at 5 p.m. EDT “to work on plans, resources and supports that we’ll be using during this closure.”