Gov. Northam orders all Virginia schools to remain closed through end of academic year

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a press conference Monday afternoon, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam mandated the closure of all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year. He also announced new restrictions on private businesses.

“Our priority is to save lives. We are moving into a period of sacrifice.”

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

The governor stopped short of ordering Virginians to “shelter in place” but said it’s clear COVID-19 will be with us for months, not weeks. That’s why he ordered all public and private schools to close so that state can continue to enforce social distancing and “bend the curve.”

“School closures are necessary to minimize the speed that COVID-19 spreads and to protect the capacity of our healthcare system,” Northam said.

The governor said school division leaders will decide how to educate their own students through the remainder of the school year but the Department of Education will be releasing further guidance on their website Tuesday. He said the state is also working on obtaining a waiver for Virginia students regarding SOLs.

Meanwhile, the governor is calling on communities to rally together to help provide “emergency child care” for essential personnel such as doctors, pharmacists, and first responders. Just last week, Northam asked child care providers to limit classroom sizes to ten.

Over the weekend, Northam announced 67 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 219. As of Monday, the confirmed cases have jumped to 254 and 7 people have died.

“These numbers will, unfortunately, continue to rise,” Northam said.

Beginning Tuesday at midnight, Northam is ordering several additional restrictions on private businesses for at least thirty days.

  • Recreation facilities like theaters, bowling alleys, and fitness centers must close.
  • Restaurants and bars are being further restricted to takeout and delivery only.
  • Personal care businesses like barbershops and salons “that cannot adhere to social distancing” must close.
  • Non-essential brick and mortar stores can only stay open if they limit customers to ten at a time. This includes Virginia ABC stores.
  • Essential businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and banks will remain open as long as they adhere to the state’s recommendations on social distancing and sanitation.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned.

WATCH: Full briefing from Gov. Northam, state health officials on Monday

For more details on the governor’s latest guidelines click HERE.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

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