Coweta County schools will remain closed through April 24, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.
"I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students,” Kemp said in a prepared statement.
"Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead."
Georgia’s public colleges and universities and technical colleges, which were shut down earlier this month for the rest of the current semester, will continue to provide online instruction.
As Kemp made his announcement on the schools, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia moved past 1,500, with 48 deaths reported from the virus.
As of noon Thursday, 1,525 Georgians had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those patients, 473 – or 31% - were hospitalized.
More than 8,900 Georgians have been tested for coronavirus, 1,646 by the state Department of Public Health and 7,280 by a commercial lab.
The virus has spread to 97 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Fulton County has the most COVID-19 cases with 211. Cases in Dougherty County have soared to 156, a huge number considering the county’s population.
DeKalb County was third as of noon Thursday with 129 positive cases, followed by Cobb County with 115, Bartow County with 86 and Gwinnett County with 75.
Wednesday, the Coweta County School System announced their evaluation and monitoring of the COVID-19 health event and their ongoing contact with state and local officials would determine whether the closure will extend beyond April 13.
Updates will be provided to parents, employees and the community as the situation unfolds.
The extension covers the school system’s spring break, which was scheduled for April 6-10. Distance learning will continue through Friday, April 3 and would resume on April 13 should the closure be extended.
In a video message to students and families posted Sunday, Superintendent Steve Barker reiterated that the learning opportunities being provided by teachers are not mandatory and will not count against students.
According to the Wednesday release, new “Frequently Asked Questions” documents regarding the extended school closure will be provided to students, parents and employees by Monday, March 30.
All school activities – including previously planned extracurricular activities, sports, practices and trips – remain canceled until further notice.
Principals and teachers will communicate with students regarding digital learning activities for students, according to the release, and parents should email their children’s principals with any questions or concerns.
School officials say they will communicate with employees about any changes in their work-related duties during the extension.
“The school system will remain in consultation with the Georgia governor’s office, the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Department of Public Health and other state and local authorities as school officials evaluate this evolving situation,” the release stated. “The school system asks that staff and families continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines as shared by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.”
For more information and updates, visit www.cowetaschools.net .