Evers orders all Wisconsin K-12 schools to close in response to coronavirus

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- All grade schools and high schools in Wisconsin – both public and private – will shut down for more than two weeks as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the nation.

Gov. Tony Evers announced late Friday afternoon that he has instructed the Wisconsin Department of Health to order the closures, starting at 5 p.m., on Wednesday, March 18. It is currently expected to last until Monday, April 6, however that date may change, pending any new developments, DHS said in its order.

"Closing our schools is not a decision I made lightly, but keeping our kids, our educators, our families, and our communities safe is a top priority as we continue to work to respond to and prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin," Gov. Evers said.

While the mandated closures won’t start until the middle of next week, individual districts are allowed to close earlier if they choose.

During a news conference held right after Gov. Evers’ announcement, Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jane Belmore said her district will continue with classes on Monday and Tuesday.

Evers explained the delay before the order goes into effect is designed to provide districts with time to make arrangements for the time off.

“Kids and families across Wisconsin often depend on our schools to access food and care,” he noted.

Evers added that state officials are developing ways to make sure those students and families have the resources they need.