The Fulton County Schools district is closing all of its schools and offices for at least two weeks, effective March 13, due to health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“As a school superintendent, I never thought I would be part of such as complex and concerning matter,” Mike Looney, the district’s superintendent, said.
Looney’s comments came at the Fulton Board of Education’s emergency called meeting March 12 at the district’s administrative office in Sandy Springs, where he announced his decision to close schools and facilities for two weeks or more.
The board voted 7-0 to approve the meeting agenda so the issue could be brought before it by Looney, but no vote was required to close the schools. Looney also emailed a letter to students’ parents informing them of the decision.
“We recognize the hardship this decision places on many families but believe it is in the public’s best interest if it means we can contribute to protecting our students and the community’s health and well-being,” a news release stated.
The decision was made the same day Gov. Brian Kemp held a press conference where he said all school districts should close for the next two weeks due to COVID-19. The Fulton district had already closed all schools March 10 and 11 to thoroughly clean them after an employee of two schools (Bear Creek and Woodland middle schools in south Fulton) contracted the virus.
Also, another employee who works at Woodland tested positive for the virus March 11. Before the emergency meeting, Bear Creek and Woodland were to remain closed until March 17 due to the first employee contracting COVID-19 and then March 23 because of the second worker catching it.
In both cases, the closure is to reduce risk of additional exposure during the 14-day waiting period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Looney said the district is looking at ways “to provide meal service and learning services for our students remotely.” Though schools will not be in session, “Students will be expected to complete online learning assignments and/or work packets as assigned by their classroom teachers,” Looney wrote in his letter to parents.
At the meeting he said the district would provide parents and the public with weekly updates on its COVID-19 plans each Friday by 5 p.m.