COVID-19 forces closure of Charles City, New Kent schools; local governments begin to take action
The spread of COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, throughout the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia has resulted in the closure of Charles City and New Kent County Public Schools for two weeks.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered all public K-12 schools in Virginia to close from March 16 to March 27 as a result of the pandemic.
In New Kent, plans were already underway to close schools Monday for a thorough cleaning of the facilities. However, all schools will now be closed, with the last event taking place is SAT testing at the high school on March 14.
“We will continue to work at all levels to help provide support to our students and families during the closure,” said New Kent superintendent of schools in a press release. “In the coming days, we will communicate further details about our plan to provide students with instructional materials, as well as other resources and support.”
Additional measures taking place include schools opening their doors for students who need medication and additional plans to help students who need meals as part of their daily nutrition.
In Charles City, the locality was already planning to shut down a minimum of one week beginning on March 16 but will now have its doors closed for the extended period.
“During the period through next week, custodial crews will be scouring, disinfecting, and sanitizing our classrooms and commons areas,” Gaston said in a press release. “All buses and vehicles will also be sanitized and cleaned for assurance.
“As we approach March 26, we will be determining our next steps,” he added. “We will also e working with families and staff to ensure that we keep everyone informed.”
In addition to school closures, all Virginia High School League (VHSL) activities have been postponed until March 30. Athletic Directors at both schools provided information of VHSL’s stance and will have facilities closed to all athletes with practices and games cancelled. Charles City’s School Board meeting slated for March 17 is expected to be postponed as well.
On Friday, Charles City County Administrator Michelle Johnson declared a local emergency just before 1 p.m. The move allows adequate and appropriate responses to local emergencies by providing services and assistance by taking emergency actions. The town hall meeting with the county’s board of supervisors, originally scheduled for March 19, has been postponed.
Officials in New Kent County government are continuing to monitor the virus. County Administrator Rodney Hathaway declared a local emergency at 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Local leaders are monitoring the situation closely as they continue to work with the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDOH).
School systems and local government officials are urging all families to continue with good cleaning and hygiene habits, as well as to remain home if a person is sick.