Policy & Public Health
More Than Half of All States Have Shut Down All of Their Schools
See ongoing updates on this story here.
five largest school districts in the nation are now shut down as more
states and major education systems around the country announced
closures over the weekend owing to fears over the COVID-19 pandemic.
this point, more
than half of the states in the United States have now ordered all
many also ordering private schools to shut down.
One state so far Monday — New Jersey — and 12 states this weekend — Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire North Carolina, North Dakota,
South Carolina and Vermont — brought
the total number of statewide closures to 33. Still more closures are
expected today and throughout the week.
closure of New York City’s 1,800 schools was announced Sunday. New
York City is the largest school system in the nation, representing
about 1.1 million students and employing some 75,000 teachers.
Schools will be closed starting today, with teachers reporting to
work later in the week to begin training to deliver distance learning
to their students.
states and several large districts that announced shutdowns late last
Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana,
Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington,
West Virginia, Wisconsin,
as well as the District of Columbia, have all ordered public K–12
schools closed amid fears over the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). In
addition, several large school districts, including Atlanta, Austin,
San Francisco, Denver, Seattle and Los
Angeles — the second-largest district in the nation
— have ordered schools shuttered.
state closures seem by and large to have been implemented with very
little or no coordination with school or district leaders, and none
have included concrete plans for delivering educational services
during the closures. Some vaguely addressed the need to deliver food
and services to students who need them. Some states have yet to post
information about the closures or even the fact of the closures on
their sites — even as the closures take effect.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all public and private schools, colleges and universities to close starting Wednesday. They are to remained closed until the state determines that it's safe for them to reopen.
Thirteen states this weekend announced closures.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson did an about-face Sunday and ordered public
schools closed beginning Tuesday, with schools having the option of
shutting down Monday.
is closing all schools through March 16 through March 27, Gov. Doug
in an open letter Sunday. He indicated additional information for
education leaders would be posted on azed.gov,
a site that was not up and running as of this writing early Monday
Gov. Ned Lamont did a similar about-face Sunday, ordering all public
schools in the state to close until at least March 31, effective
Gov. Kim Reynolds Sunday recommended all schools close for at least
four weeks, at which time the state will assess whether they should
remain closed or students should return to classes on campus.
Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all public and private schools in his
state closed starting Tuesday. Those closures are expected to last
for three weeks at this point. Massachusetts was one of only four
states that announced closures over the weekend and also
provided that information on its state website.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order late Sunday closing schools until March 27.
Montana public K–12 schools will be closed through March 27.
announced Sunday it will close all public and private schools,
including charters, until April 6. Those closures are effective
Hampshire is closing schools March 16 through April 3, with
students tentatively scheduled to return to class April 6. According
to an executive order issued by Gov. Chris Sununu, schools must begin
delivering remote instruction by March 23. New Hampshire, like
posted the fact of the school closures on its website. The state
guidance for school leaders.
Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued
an executive order Saturday calling for the closure of all K–12
schools in that state. Schools will close March 16–30, unless
Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum Sunday night announced
the shortest shutdown among the statewide school closures
thusfar, just one week. That timespan may be extended.
Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered
all schools closed through the end of March, beginning March 16.
According to local reporting, food centers will be established to
help students who rely on school lunches.
Gov. Phil Scott ordered schools closed March 18 to April 6 with the
possibility of an extension. That order addresses the need to
distribute food for students who rely on school meals, providing
services for special needs students and planning for distance
education should the closure timeframe be extended.
Thirteen states announced closures Friday, March 13, to take effect this week.
is closing schools statewide starting March 18, a Wednesday. Normal
school operations are expected to resume April 6.
Alaska closed its schools for a period of two weeks.
announced closures to take place until March 30. As of this writing,
the state has yet to post any information about the closures on its
shut down all private and public schools, including charters, until
at least March 30.
is shutting down schools until April 13. According to a
proclamation the governor signed into effect Friday,
schools are to continue providing essential services, such as meals,
to the best of their ability. The proclamation calls for schools to
offer distance education, where possible. The instructional minute
requirement for the state is being suspended as well.
is closing schools for two weeks, starting March 16. Gov. Tom Wolf
said in a prepared statement: “Be aware that no school district
will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours
requirements. The Department of Education will work with intermediate
units and other stakeholders to support school districts with any
continuity of learning plans they may be pursuing. Also, the
Pennsylvania Department of Education announced today that it received
a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow eligible
schools to serve meals to low income students in a non-congregate
setting, such as a drive-through or grab and go, during this closure.
We will also work with schools to assist them with those plans.”
Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced a one-week closure, moving
spring break week from April to this week, starting March 16.
According to information
released by the state: “… [T]eachers and other school staff
are urged to remain local. The change in school vacation week is to
limit spread of COVID-19 while allowing schools and districts to work
with the Rhode Island Department of Education on their distance
learning plans. It will also allow schools and districts to prepare
to make meals available to at-risk students where possible, in the
event we need to move to distance learning. Schools should also use
next week to clean and disinfect all surfaces in their buildings. A
decision will be made at the end of next week about what to do the
Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Friday announced schools will close for
one week for cleaning. An extension of those closures is possible.
Utah closed its schools for two weeks under a "soft closure."
Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all K–12 schools in his state to close
for a minimum of two weeks. The time off will be used for cleaning
and disinfecting and developing longer-term plans. “We are taking
this action to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible, and
to minimize exposure to COVID-19,” said Gov. Northam, in a prepared
statement. “I recognize this will pose a hardship on many families,
but closing our schools for two weeks will not only give our staff
time to clean and disinfect school facilities, it will help slow the
spread of this virus. This is a fluid and fast-changing situation. We
will do everything possible to ensure that students who rely on
school nutrition programs continue to have access to meals, and that
the disruption to academics is as minimal as possible.”
to the department: "Virginia Department of Education officials
are working closely with school divisions and the Department of
Social Services to ensure students who qualify for free or reduced
lunch programs are able to access those programs while schools are
closed. The Department of Education will issue guidance and memos to
superintendents across the commonwealth to provide specifics about
the continuity of education, school nutrition, and updated public
“We recognize this decision
places burdens on many of our parents and families, especially for
those who rely on school nutrition programs for access to healthy
food for their children,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni,
also in a prepared statement. “However, we believe closing Virginia
schools is in the commonwealth’s best interest as we seek to stop
the spread of COVID-19. Virginia will continue to explore and
implement innovative approaches to provide meals to students who
qualify for free and reduced lunch during this closure.”
expanded its school closures statewide until April 24. Previously,
the closures only affected three districts. Now, all public and
private schools will be closed as of Monday.
Virginia similarly indicated it will continue to provide
nutrition services during its school closures, which affects all
pre-K–12 schools in the state.According to the governor's office,
"This comes after several measures were taken this week,
including the canceling of all out-of-state travel and the suspension
of all afterschool and school extracurricular activities. Though at
this time there are no positive cases of COVID-19, this step was
taken out of an abundance of caution. Child nutrition programs will
continue throughout the school closure." School employees,
however, are expected to continue to report to work for the time
being. West Virginia is the only state that has not yet set a date
for schools to resume normal operations.
closing schools starting March 18. Students
are expected to return to classes April 6.
states announced closures Thursday, March 12, to take effect Monday,
Gov. Andy Beshear recommended all schools close for at least two
weeks. His office reported that most anticipate remaining closed
until April 13.
which is closing schools for two weeks starting Monday and made the
recommended that administrators work on plans for delivering
also made its closure announcement Thursday night. All Michigan
schools, public and private, including boarding schools, will close
for three weeks beginning Monday. No
specific plans were announced regarding the closures. However,
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a statement released to news
outlets, acknowledged the need to address the difficulties faced by
students who rely on school-provided meals.
am working with partners across state government to ensure educators,
parents, and students have the support they need during this time,
and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access
to food,” Gov. Whitmer said. “I know this will be a tough time,
but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge
everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything
they can to protect themselves and their families.”
Mexico also announced its public school closures Thursday.
Closures will begin Monday and are expected to last three weeks.
is a proactive measure to limit the potential community spread of
COVID-19,” said Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, in a prepared
statement. “We have seen other states take this measure after they
have experienced community spread of this virus. New Mexico is going
to be proactive and do everything we can to prevent the potential
spread of the virus. I have been in communication with all of our
superintendents about this proactive step, and we are all going to
work together to address this public health challenge.”
are advising the public of this forthcoming announcement tonight so
that parents and students can prepare for this upcoming change and
begin to make arrangements,” New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham said in
a prepared statement. “We will be informing the public of
additional measures that the state will be taking to ease the burden
on families and educators and ensure that children continue to be fed
and cared for.”
Ohio, the news came as a surprise to at least some district
administrators. According to local reporting, administrators at
Cincinnati Public Schools had no idea of the plans for closure until
the announcement was made to the public late Thursday. Schools in
Ohio will be shuttered three weeks starting Monday.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria issued a
statement in response to the closures Thursday: “We are especially
grateful to schools that have proactively developed plans to keep
learning going even if school buildings aren’t open. There is a lot
of momentum in Ohio’s schools right now and we would hate to see
that momentum stalled, although we understand that today’s
announcement does mean there will be disruptions.”
did not offer guidance to schools or parents affected by the
decision: “We understand there are many questions. This is
uncharted territory that we all are navigating together. We are
working to provide answers but rest assured that we are committed to
working with Governor DeWine, the legislature and other stakeholders
to provide as much flexibility and latitude as necessary to
accommodate these circumstances. Thank you for your patience.”
Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown Thursday announced schools will close
for two weeks beginning Monday. She said in a statement released
Thursday: “Schools are critical institutions that provide important
services for all our students, but especially our most vulnerable,
and during this crisis I have worked hard to ensure those critical
services continue. So many of our families depend on school in order
for parents to go to their jobs, and for students to access health
care and receive nutrition assistance. However, I have heard from
superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, and
students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate
schools due to workforce issues and student absences. Schools are
experiencing critical shortages in staff, and superintendents are
concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk such as those
over age 60 and those with underlying medical issues.”
Brown’s office ordered schools to develop plans for reopening
schools that “accommodate ongoing impacts of coronavirus. Staff
should utilize the final two days of March to finalize plans for
operating schools under updated measures, with students expected to
return on Wednesday, April 1.”
are also ordered to develop plans to “continue nutrition services
during the closure.”
are in close communication with school districts across the state,
and they will be communicating regularly with their school
communities throughout the closure period,” said Colt Gill,
director of the Oregon Department of Education, in a prepared
statement. “Due to the evolving nature of this crisis, these
timelines will be reevaluated in late March in consultation with
Find more resources for schools during the COVID-19 crisis here.