Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation Friday that among other actions immediately halts any gathering of more than 250 people until Monday, April 13 and closes all K-12 public schools statewide for the next month as Louisiana seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Schools will be closed effective Monday, March 16 and would resume Monday, April 13, according to a press release issued by Edwards’ office Friday afternoon.
As of mid-day Friday, Louisiana has 33 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
The Governor will address this order at his 3 p.m. joint media briefing with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell at New Orleans City Hall, which will also be live-streamed at Facebook.com/LouisianaGov.
“We are at an inflection point now and we are going to take bold action to minimize the further spread of this illness. That is why I am issuing this order today, ending all events of more than 250 people, closing our schools, and reducing the amount of face-to-face public interaction at state government buildings,” Edwards said. “In a separate executive order, I will grant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s request to move our upcoming elections for April and May to June and July. The limits on gatherings of 250 people or more statewide is based on federal CDC guidance given the community spread which we are currently experiencing. These steps are necessary to protect the health and safety of the people of Louisiana from the risk of COVID-19.”
The proclamation specifies the halting of gatherings of 250 or more applies only to gatherings in a single space at the same time where individuals will be in close proximity to each other. It does not apply to normal operations at locations like airports, medical facilities, shopping centers or malls, office buildings, factories or manufacturing facilities, or grocery or department stores.
It also notes schools may offer complete distance learning as capabilities exist.
5 P.M. UPDATE – St. Charles Parish Public Schools also issued their own statement Friday about measures to be taken. Spokeswoman Stevie Crovetto communicated the following:
“Gov. John Bel Edwards today, March 13, 2020, signed a proclamation that among other actions closes all K-12 public schools statewide effective Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 13, as Louisiana seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. We understand that extended school closure will create a hardship for many families. Children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the many people at school who know them, care for them and provide recognition of them five days a week.
Families, too, count on that routine and the knowledge that their children are cared for during the day. It allows them to tend to their workday or focus on the other pieces of life that need to be taken care of – and there are many.
Contemplating weeks without that structure and care may seem overwhelming. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us through this time. At this moment, we are currently working on plans and decisions that we know are important to you. The most immediate issues we are working to address at this time are outlined below.
We are waiting further guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education on the potential impacts to our school calendar. Once additional information is received, we will pass that on to you in regards to the status of the previously scheduled Easter/Spring Break Holiday.
Parent Facility Access
School administrators will be on campus between 8 AM and 4 PM on Monday, March 16 to allow parents access to any items they may need to retrieve from the school including medication.
We are currently exploring options to continue to provide meals to students.
At Home Learning
The Curriculum & Instruction Department is preparing online and printed resources for at home learning. These resources will assist with providing students educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom but are not required and will not be graded. Once the resources are available, we will notify you of when and where you may access them.
We will be sending updates with information and resources via email, text messages, the website and social media channels. Please continue to check these frequently.
We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through this difficult situation.”