Governor Extends School Closures; Salons, Gyms Must Close; New Guidance for Childcare Facilities

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NC Governor Roy Cooper announced an executive order extending the closure of schools until May 15 among other restrictions due to COVID-19.

“I’m not ready to give up on this year of school, however we know that the effects of this pandemic will not go away anytime soon. This is what we need to slow the spread of the virus.

“We arrived at this May 15 date by looking at the CDC and public guidance. If the guidance changes we will adjust the order.”

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The state board of education is working on methods to maximize the time left in the school year, Cooper said.

Cooper said schools across the state had served 1.2 million meals since schools closed last week.

State Superintendent of Schools Mark Johnson praised teachers, staff and administrators for reacting quickly to the changes.

Johnson then said school closures may last beyond May 15, but announced that students on track to graduate this June will still be able to and urged parents to keep their kids engaged in learning.

The governor said he has asked Johnson and the state board of education to ensure all school staff are paid while school is out.

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Cooper has not yet ordered a shelter in place order, though people are urged to stay home as much as possible.

The governor’s new executive order also closes gyms, movie theaters, health clubs and other facilities. These facilities are asked to close as soon as possible. The order goes into effect Wednesday.

Hair salons, barber shops and massage businesses are also to close by 5 pm on Wednesday.

Grocery stores and restaurants offering take-out and delivery will remain open. The governor requested people not overbuy supplies.

The governor then asked NC Dept. of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cohen to give a medical update.

“This is a new disease and we continue to learn new information as it becomes available,” she said.

The state has updated its list of those at greatest risk:

  • 65 years and older
  • people living in a long term care facility
  • people with chronic lung disease or asthma
  • people with heart conditions
  • people with severe obesity
  • people with diabetes

COVID-19 has not showed an extra risk for pregnant women. Children seem to not be affected as badly, but NCDHHS is urging caution with infants.

However, Cohen said, “childcare is a critical service,” and announced the state would be sending out updated guidance to childcare facilities. These facilities must follow the new guidelines in order to stay open.

Then Cohen touched on mental health related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We know distancing is hard, with all the scoial distancing and uncertainty, we know these can give rise to anxiety and depression and other mental illnesses,” Cohen said, and encouraged people to get outside, put then news down, and take care of themselves.

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