Northam Closes Virginia Schools for Academic Year; Also Shuts Down Non-Essential Business

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR Ralph Northam makes his daily press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic where he announces the closure of all schools. (Photo: Screenshot/News-Press)

Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced Monday that schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year in response to continued community spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Northam ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state. Exemptions include medical and related businesses, law enforcement, media and food sales services — though all dine-in service is suspended effective midnight tonight.

The shut-down decisions were made after reports that COVID-19 is now responsible for six deaths and 254 positive cases in Virginia — a jump from 219 cases on Sunday.

Two cases have been confirmed in the City of Falls Church, both of which have been at The Kensington senior living facility on West Broad Street. A total of 45 cases have been confirmed in the Fairfax Health District.

“School closures are necessary to mitigate the speed at which COVID-19 spreads and protect the capacity of our healthcare system,” Northam said at his Monday news conference about the pandemic.

The governor said that the Virginia’s Department of Education will release guidelines to school divisions about how students can learn the information they were meant to cover by Tuesday.

He added that the state is already working on waivers to relieve testing requirements and ensure that students on track to graduate can do so.

Peter Noonan, Falls Church City Public Schools’ superintendent said in a statement that learning plans will still be presented through the school system’s online learning platform, Schoology, through April 10. FCCPS will also be honoring spring break.

“While it is the right thing to do to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are disappointed that we are closed for the remainder of the year,” Noonan told the News-Press.

“FCCPS is committed to continuing to support our families during the time of closure, getting through this, and getting school opened again,” Noonan continued. “We await the Virginia Department of Education’s guidance that will inform our next steps. FCCPS stands ready to serve in any capacity we are called on to support essential personnel as we ensure the safety of all. We continue to ask that all community members do their part and recognize that we are stronger together.”