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Cooper issues order to stop mass gatherings, close schools

Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered all public schools statewide to close for two weeks to halt the transmission of the coronavirus. His announcement was made at a Saturday press conference.

This comes after it was revealed Saturday morning that the state has 23 positive results of the virus in 12 counties, the closest to Stanly being neighboring Cabarrus.

“As you know we are all changing our ways of life to help contain and limit disease from this pandemic. Now we need to ask you to change even more,” Cooper said. “Today, I’m issuing an Executive Order to stop mass gatherings of more than 100 people across the state. We issued this as guidance on Thursday, however, despite this guidance, several venues continued their events, so today’s order makes it mandatory.

“This Executive Order also directs K-12 public schools across our state to close for students on Monday, March 16 for at least two weeks. Several school districts have already made this decision and others are considering closures. Many parents are choosing to keep their children home from school. We need a statewide response and statewide action.
These measures will also be tough on working parents and children who get their meals at school. We are working on efforts to deal with these challenges, from changes to unemployment insurance to special funding from the state and federal government to help get us through this.”

Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff James said SCS’s leadership had an online meeting with state officials Sunday.

Late Sunday, SCS said this week will be sheltered workdays for staff members.

“This time will be used to prepare for remote and alternative learning procedures,” Hope Miller-Drye, administrative and board assistant, said in an email.

“Stanly County Schools will provide meals to all students at no cost via regular bus routes for all schools and drive through at designated locations throughout the district,” Miller-Drye added. “These drive through locations are determined by USDA guidelines of area eligibility. Additional information and details concerning the meal plan provided by our child nutrition department will be forthcoming as we start this service and work to refine the process in the next days and/or weeks.”

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, issued a statement after Cooper’s executive order requiring the temporary closure of North Carolina public schools.

“We appreciate Governor Cooper’s careful consideration of all the impacts a statewide closure of our public school system would have on educators, students, parents, and the wider community,” Jewell said. “Ultimately, we think this is the correct decision, and we thank him for acting decisively in the best interest of everyone involved.”

Gray Stone Day School will also be closed during this order.

Carolina Christian School in Locust has made the move to use a distance learning format from Tuesday through March 27. Students will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to visit the school to gather their prepared distance learning materials.

“We have communicated with students and families our distance learning format by grade level, and our faculty have been working tirelessly on the preparation of the student materials,” said Jessica Hinson, director of admissions and marketing for the school. “Spring Break will be moved to the week of March 29 if prolonged school closure is necessary.”