To fight the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), all Michigan public and private schools will close on Monday, March 16, and remain closed for three weeks, under a state-wide order announced late Thursday night.
Some Michigan public school districts announced closures earlier on Thursday, as did Mercy High School, and Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Fabian Catholic schools in Farmington Hills. On Thursday afternoon, Farmington Schools Supt. Bob Herrera said Oakland County leaders would hold a conference call Friday to discuss their options.
Whitmer preempted that conversation with her 11 p.m. announcement.
”In an abundance of caution, I am ordering the closure of all K-12 school buildings in Michigan for three weeks, starting Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 5,” she said.
Whitmer said Michigan now has 12 confirmed cases of the virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Whitmer said governors across the country have also closed schools. She said the length of the closure may be adjusted as decisions are made with guidance from state health officials.
Calling the move a “necessary step” to protect children, families, and overall public health, Whitmer said she wants to see school employees paid during the unplanned break. She also encouraged businesses to step up and assist employees who may now have child care concerns.
Whitmer did not have immediate answers to questions about how the closure would affect state standardized testing. There are also no plans to extend the school year and make up the time.
The closure window encompasses Farmington Public Schools’ scheduled spring break, March 30-April 3.
Whitmer stressed that even those who feel healthy may unknowingly spread the virus and encouraged everyone to take simple precautions:
- Wash your hands often
- Touch your face less often
- Replace handshakes with elbow bumps
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze