Stanly schools shut for minimum of two weeks with rest of state

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, left, answers questions at a press conference in which he declared a state of emergency for North Carolina on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 after five additional COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Monday. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

ALBEMARLE — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Saturday that all public schools will be closed for two weeks or more, and Stanly County Schools will be making their own announcements this weekend as well.

Superintendent of Stanly County Schools Dr. Jeff James released a statement Saturday saying they would be meeting with state leaders in an “online session” Sunday.

“Once we have additional information we will be communicating our meal plans, lessons for K -5, virtual learning for 6-12,” James said. “Our hopes are to release this by 5 pm tomorrow providing the state has solidified plans.”

They also hope to clarify details for school employees on Sunday after conferencing with state officials.

“Thanks for you patience and understanding as we handle this pandemic situation,” James said. “This is a first for all of us. But rest assured your key community leaders have been in constant contact to ensure a unified response.”

Schools across the state will be closed starting Monday, March, 16. Cooper also banned gatherings of over 100 people anywhere in the state.

“We know that it will be difficult on many parents and students,” Cooper said during a news conference.

“Our lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. But we’re going to get through this.”

Cooper said a special state education and health committee was being formed to address child care, student meals and other challenges with the statewide closings.

North Carolina joins more than half a dozen other states in ordering statewide school closings — including Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Illinois and Washington state — as officials try to slow the spread of coronavirus. Colleges and university around the country have also suspended on-campus instruction, extended spring break, or both.

North Carolina health officials say 23 people in the state have tested positive for coronavirus. No deaths have been reported.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

The outbreak has caused more than 5,600 deaths out of 149,000 cases worldwide.

All 17 University of North Carolina system schools and many private colleges have told students to stay off campus for a while and prepare to learn without face-to-face classes later this month.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.