RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all K-12 schools in Virginia to be closed for at least two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governor’s mandate comes a day after he declared a state of emergency and as confirmed cases in the commonwealth grew to 30.

Virginia schools will be closed from March 16 to March 27 at a minimum, a release from the governor’s office said Friday.

“We are taking this action to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible, and to minimize exposure to COVID-19,” Northam said in a Friday statement.

“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. This is a fluid and fast-changing situation. We will do everything possible to ensure that students who rely on school nutrition programs continue to have access to meals, and that the disruption to academics is as minimal as possible,” the governor’s statement continued.

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The Virginia Department of Education is coordinating with school divisions and social services in order to make sure students possibly in need, specifically those who qualify for free or reduced lunch, can still get access to the programs while schools remain closed.

“We recognize this decision places burdens on many of our parents and families, especially for those who rely on school nutrition programs for access to healthy food for their children,” Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said Friday. “However, we believe closing Virginia schools is in the Commonwealth’s best interest as we seek to stop the spread of COVID-19. Virginia will continue to explore and implement innovative approaches to provide meals to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch during this closure.”

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