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U.S. Washington state announces school closures in 3 counties hit hardest by coronavirus

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:29, March 13, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will close for the next six weeks as the coronavirus continues to spread.

"We do not take these decisions lightly and I am fully aware of the various impacts this has on families and communities," Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. "Today's decision has a full range of implications... I anticipate this will cause ripple effects throughout our state. But we can't afford not to do it. We must ensure that we slow the spread of this virus."

Across the three counties, nearly 563,600 students attend public or charter schools. Under the executive order, schools will close from Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, April 24. The earliest possible day that schools can reopen will be April 27.

"Our systems need to be prepared for a potentially longer closure... We have to be prepared that this is back in the fall or still with us in the fall," Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said.

Dave Somers, Snohomish County executive, expressed his full support for the decision. "Closing schools has been shown to disrupt transmission and flatten the curve. We need consistency across the region, and these closures will give schools time to plan, ensuring our kids all have access to nutrition and instruction."

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