Schools close, board declares state of emergency

Superintendent of Schools Doug Straley addresses the Louisa County Board of Supervisors at an emergency meeting on March 13.

Louisa County Public Schools will close due to the coronavirus beginning on Tuesday, March 17, Superintendent of Schools Doug Straley announced this afternoon at an emergency meeting of the board of supervisors. The schools will remain closed at least until March 27.

 

The schools are developing plans to deliver learning resources for students to use at home. The schools had previously announced there would be no school on Monday, March 16 for a teachers’ work day. 

 

Meanwhile, the board of supervisors declared a local state of emergency to ensure the county is eligible for a share of state or federal funding that may be available to help with coronavirus relief.

 

“We’re asking staff not to come in on Monday, to stay away so we can give a deep cleaning to the schools,” Straley said. “Then on Tuesday we’ll have them come in to plan what we’re going to do.”

 

Straley had sent a letter to parents on March 12 advising them the schools were considering whether to close, and would make a decision by March 20. Teachers would have given students materials to take home at that time. 

 

But with closing now in immediate effect, the schools have to devise a way to deliver learning resources to students’ homes. Straley said one option under consideration is to have school bus drivers deliver materials.

 

As Straley was speaking to the supervisors, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all K-12 schools in the state to close for a minimum of two weeks. 

 

“I recognize this will pose a hardship on many families, but closing our schools for two weeks will not only give our staff time to clean and disinfect school facilities, it will help slow the spread of this virus,” Northam said.

 

County Administrator Christian Goodwin encouraged residents, businesses and local groups planning large gatherings to carefully consider sanitation practices, keeping mind the higher risk to certain populations such as older citizens.

 

“I would encourage people to consider the necessity of those events and the types of folks that will be at those events,” he said. “Keep in mind that high-risk people are impacted when we come in contact with them.”

 

The Louisa County Resource Council is working on a plan to have residents who come to receive food donations to do so without getting out of their cars, according to Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral District). 

 

Straley said the schools will send information next week to families that qualify for the free and reduced-price school meals program on how they can continue to receive assistance.

 

Goodwin urged residents to exercise common sense and not to overreact to events. He urged people to read information about good sanitation practices at the county’s coronavirus page at louisacounty.com.

 

“I was talking to a colleague this morning who said, ‘You know, people are freaking out,’” Goodwin said. “Now’s the time to stay calm. We’ll work through this by staying informed. We have the ability individually to prevent the spread of this virus."

 

Watch full video of the emergency meeting on our Facebook page. 

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