Governor Roy Cooper announced Monday he will sign an executive order closing schools for public instruction until May 15.
Schools were initially shut down from March 16 to March 30 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“I am not ready to give up on this school year. However, we know that the effects of this pandemic will not subside any time soon,” Cooper said. “Therefore, today I will sign an executive order that closes public K-12 schools across North Carolina for in-person instruction until May 15.
“I know many parents have been expecting something like this. Many of you have become home school teachers in the last week, and I know this is extremely difficult for you and your children.
“This is what we need to do to help slow the spread of this virus, but I am committed to ensuring our students get the best education they can this year.”
As of Monday morning, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 297 cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Cabarrus Health Alliance announced Sunday there were eight known cases in the county.
Both Cabarrus County Schools and Kannapolis City Schools have been preparing for schools being closed longer and have a plan to educate students while schools are closed.
CCS is handing out Chromebooks to students who do not have a means for learning online at home. It will start handing out the laptops Tuesday and will continue to do so through Wednesday.
The district is planning to do supplemental learning this week before jumping into more extensive curriculum next week.
KCS also has online resources already set up for it students and has discussed giving out devices as well to students who are without them.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is looking into curriculum at this time as well.
“I have asked the State Board of Education in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction and legislators to develop a plan that strives to educate our students through the remainder of the school year,” Cooper said. “That includes providing our students with as much remote learning as possible and a real connection to our schools even while the buildings are closed. We must maximize the time left in the year as much as possible.”
It remains to be seen what this means for employees across the board as some hourly ones expressed concern for their health as they were being asked to performing custodial duties at schools which could expose them to the virus.
Cooper though reiterated that he wants to do all he can to get all employees paid.
“I have asked that the plan lay out how we are going to make sure that all school employees are able to continue to safely work and to get paid during this time,” Cooper said.
It should be noted though that Cooper’s initial declaration on the day after he closed schools caused confusion on teacher pay as at least 19 districts thought every employee would be getting paid throughout the duration of the school closings.
After the confusion the office of State Superintendent Mark Johnson took away the confusion by saying hourly employees must work their hours to be paid or take paid leave or sick days.
Cooper went on to say his executive order now bans mass gatherings of at least 50 people and orders gyms, movie theaters, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs, and other similar facilities to close.
This order includes hair and nail salons, barber shops and massage therapists as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. He also stated for other facilities to do what they can to close before that date if possible.
Grocery stores will remain open and restaurants can still provide takeout and delivery.
“Even though we’re keeping our physical distance, our connections to one another are more meaningful than ever,” Cooper said. “Stay strong in those connections, or reach out for help if you are having a hard time. North Carolinians know how to help each other.”