After consulting with School Superintendents from across the state, and following the closure of all public schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, Governor John Carney has called for Delaware’s public schools to close for a period of two weeks, effective immediately.
Governor Carney has asked that all 19 Delaware school districts close from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27. School Boards are being asked to respond by officially changing their Spring Break dates in support of the action.
In a letter sent to superintendents and charter school leaders on Friday afternoon, Carney said that the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has not recommended that close schools. However, he added that out of an abundance of caution, he is directing the closure from March 16 through March 27 so the State can work with school leaders and public health experts to create a plan for Delaware students and educators as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
The Governor has also asked public school leaders to undertake a deep cleaning of their facilities during the two-week closure.
“This virus could be with us for many months, and closing schools may have negative effects for our children, and for parents who must work to support their families,” wrote Carney.
The complete letter can be found here.
School districts are now evaluating whether students will have to make up days missed, whether school graduations will take place on time, whether work will be sent home while school is closed and whether districts could potentially be closed longer than two weeks. Each school district will communicate to its parents on the plans forward.
Charter School of Wilmington moves to ‘cyber learning’
Earlier today parents and students at the Charter School of Wilmington were advised that the school will close the first part of next week and then move to “cyber learning” through at least March 27.
Charter was the first high school in the state to announce a move to online learning.
Even though the Governor has asked all public schools to close for two weeks, School President Jim Capolupo says his students and teachers will continue with the plan that was unveiled this morning. “There’s no reason not to continue instruction,” said Capolupo. “The school will be cleaned and disinfected by the Red Clay School District, and our kids can continue to learn remotely,” he said.
Capolupo says the global threat of the coronavirus weighed heavily on him and his administration. “Just like everyone else, I’m looking at the world situation. My sphere of influence is that I am looking at this amazing school, and the responsibility I take very seriously, and I see everything closing around us. And I think how does a high school ignore a crisis situation like this?”
The administration sent families and faculty a letter this morning stating that on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 teachers will work from home to develop online lesson plans for students.
Working with a team of scholars, teachers, staff, parents, administration and Board members, Capolupo said the school developed a plan to equip students with everything they would need to learn online. Their block times even include “office hours” where students can seek extra help from teachers.
“I realized that other schools may or may not be doing this,” said Capolupo. “But Charter took the lead today. If we make some mistakes, that’s okay. We will learn from it and move forward. To me this is maybe a chance to look at and redesign education in the future,” he said.
While Charter is part of the Red Clay Consolidated School District, it can make its own decisions about school closures. The school plans to continue to monitor any further announcements by the State and/or the school district.
Charter shares a building with Cab Calloway School of the Arts, which has chosen to follow the guidelines set forth by the State and the Red Clay School District.
UD students told to vacate residence halls
One day after announcing that they are moving to online learning for the remainder of the year, the University of Delaware announced today the immediate closure of campus residence halls. Those students who previously arranged to remain on campus during spring break were told to begin moving out as soon as they are able and must vacate by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
In a letter to students and parents, President Dennis Assanis said, “This was not an easy decision by any means. I know I speak for the entire administration and our trustees when I say that everyone wishes that the situation could be otherwise, but we believe this is the most responsible decision for everyone’s wellbeing.”
UD will make special on-campus housing arrangements for students who are unable to return home because of international travel restrictions or serious personal reasons.
Nonprofits cancel programming
The moves to remote learning come as dozens of large events, including Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, have been canceled, and other nonprofits shut down long term programming over COVID-19 concerns.
Just this afternoon OperaDelaware canceled the remainder of their 2019/2020 season, and the Delaware Historical Society will temporarily postpone all public events, programs, and tours and close the Delaware History Museum, Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, Old Town Hall, the Research Library, and the Read House & Gardens. The Delaware Art Museum
Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) has decided to cancel all events and will be closing the Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery from March 16th – March 29th. Additionally, they will not be participating in April’s Art Loop, and they have extended spring break for students by one week.
The Delaware Nature Society is also temporarily suspending all programming from March 15 – April 1. Their trails and offices remain open, however.