Cooper announces executive order closing K-12 public schools until May 15

K-12 schools closed through May 15

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Gov. Roy Cooper has announced an executive order that will keep public kindergarten through 12th grade schools closed for in-person instruction through May 15.

“I know many parents have been expecting something like this,” Cooper said in a press conference Monday afternoon. “Many of you have become home school teachers in the last week, and I know this is extremely difficult for you and your children. This is what we need to do to help slow the spread of this virus, but I am committed to ensuring our students get the best education they can this year.”

The executive order also lowers the threshold to ban mass gatherings of more than 50 people and orders businesses like gyms, movie theatres, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs to close effective Wednesday.

Hair and nail salons, barber shops, and massage therapists also must close by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Cooper said that grocery stores will remain open as well as restaurants that have takeout and delivery service.

“I ask again, please do not overbuy at the grocery store,” Cooper said. “I have had most all the grocery store officials on the phone and they continue to tell me that supply lines are open. They are also hiring former restaurant employees. And I appreciate the people who are continuing to grow and supply our food.”

HAPPENING NOW: Gov. Cooper, along with health and education leaders, are holding a briefing on COVID-19 updates.

Posted by WECT News on Monday, March 23, 2020

Healthcare volunteers

Cooper also said that the state is looking for help in the healthcare field.

“We are recruiting volunteers and companies to supplement our health care workforce,” Cooper said. “We’ve already had 300 people reach out to us, and we need more. This includes clinical providers such as doctors and nurses, clinical support such as pharmacy and imaging and respiratory care, and facility maintenance and administrative support.”

If you fit into one of these categories, you can go to ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus to learn more about how you can help.

Covid-19 testing

Cooper said that as of Monday morning more than 8,400 tests for Covid-19 have been complete. There are more than 10,000 tests pending.

As of Monday morning, there were 297 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across 45 counties in the state.

Most at-risk groups

Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said during Monday’s news conference that CDC updated who is at greatest risk:

  • people 65 years and older
  • people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • people with high-risk conditions including chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, or heart disease with complications
  • people who are immunocompromised
  • people of any age with severe obesity or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes

“We must be particularly vigilant for those who are at higher risk for more severe illness,” Cohen said. “This is a new disease and we continue to learn about it as new information becomes available.

“The CDC also advises that women who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.”

Childcare

Cohen also said that the state will be sending out new guidance for childcare programs.

“Today, we will be sending out updated health, safety and operational guidance to child care programs that they will need to meet to stay open so that they can best protect the health, safety and well-being of our child care workforce and the families they serve,” Cohen said. "We know that the child care industry, like many others, is struggling financially.

"We are also actively pursuing options to provide financial support to child care programs in order to ensure available child care for families who need it during this crisis.”

Shelter in place?

Cooper was asked about the possibility that a shelter-in-place could be ordered for the state.

“As a state right now, we are preparing for every scenario," he said. "Right now, we’re not issuing a stay-at-home order but the situation is constantly evolving.”

Federal testing

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