CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday he signing an executive order that will close all public K-12 schools until May 15.
Cooper made the announcement at a 1 p.m. press conference as the total number of positive cases in the state grew to 297, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The governor said the May 15 date was decided by looking at public health guidance from the CDC.
“I’m not ready to give up on this year of school,” Cooper said, adding a message to parents who are now homeschooling. “I know this is extremely difficult for you and your children, but this is what we need to do to slow the spread of this virus.”
Cooper said that N.C. “must maximize the time left in the year as much as possible.”
Education officials said that students who were scheduled to graduate this year will still be on track to do so.
The officials urged parents not to treat the school closures as a “break." They stressed that parents should keep their children caught up on their academic responsibilities and on a normal, school-like schedule.
Meals are still being provided to students and families who rely on schools. As of Monday, officials said, 1 million meals had already been delivered.
In response to Cooper’s executive order, North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Commissioner Que Tucker announced that all interscholastic athletics would remain suspended until at least May 18.
“The NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff will use the next few weeks to weigh our future decisions based on the new directions given by Governor Cooper, other government leaders, and organizations charged with public health and safety during this unprecedented time." Tucker said. “Such decisions will include the possible resumption of spring sports’ competition and the possibility of holding the state basketball championships.”
Tucker continued, "While we remain hopeful that we will be able to resume competition, particularly for our senior student-athletes, we also recognize the need to protect the health and safety of our students, coaches and the communities we serve.”
- March 10: N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper declares state of emergency
- March 11: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic
- March 13: President Donald Trump declares National Emergency | S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster declares state of emergency
- March 14: North Carolina closes all public schools, bans gatherings of more than 100 people
- March 15: South Carolina closes all public schools, recommends limiting large gatherings
- March 17: North Carolina limits restaurants to carry out or delivery, expands unemployment benefits
- March 18: North Carolina confirms first case of COVID-19 from community spread
At least 45 North Carolina counties have positive coronavirus cases, including Mecklenburg County which had nearly 100 by Monday afternoon.
An order for North Carolina remains in place to keep mass gatherings to 100 people or less. Gov. Cooper has also issued an executive order that closes bars and restaurants to dine-in customers. The order unlocked unemployment benefits for those who lost, or lose, their job during the coronavirus outbreak.