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Central Virginia Schools Plan to Close Temporarily amid COVID-19 Concerns

Richmond Public Schools Announcement
Outside of City Hall, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras announces closures for the next two weeks amid growing COVID-19 concerns. (Photo Credit: Roberto Roldan / VPM News) 

Hours after Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in response to increasing cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, school divisions in Central Virginia are deciding to cancel in-person classes.  

Richmond Public Schools will close for at least two weeks starting on Monday for students and staff, in response to an increase of Virginians testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

In a press conference outside of City Hall Thursday, Superintendent Jason Kamras said schools will remain open Friday, to give teachers and students time to prepare for the closure. Assignments will be given to students for the next few days, and online learning resources will be available. 

Around 20 food distribution sites will be set up throughout the city to assist students reliant on school meals. 

“Distribution will start Monday, March 16,” Kamras said.“The sites will be open from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM every day. It will be shelf-stable food.”

All school district employees, including bus drivers and custodians, are expected to receive their full pay during the school closure. 

Because of COVID-19 concerns, Henrico County Public Schools is also planning to close schools for two weeks, starting Monday March 16 until Friday, March 27. Henrico district officials say teachers and staff will work Monday to prepare “virtual learning” experiences, that will be available to students at all grade levels starting on Tuesday. 

“We will continue to assess the situation, and decide later if we need to extend this period of closure,” Superintendent Amy Cashwell said in a press release. “We realize that any change to educational schedules is disruptive and inconvenient. However, our priority must always be the health and safety of our students, staff members and community.”

Powhatan County Public Schools and Hanover County also announced closures for the coming weeks. 

This story is still developing. Continue to follow VPM News for more updates.