Updated at 10:50 p.m. March 15, with comments from school and county officials
Dozens of school districts across the St. Louis region will close this week in an extraordinary move to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Districts in St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties plan to remain closed through early April and could decide to extend the break further.
The closures affect more than 40 districts in Missouri, including St. Louis’ charter schools. All public and Catholic school districts in St. Louis city and county announced Sunday night that they plan to close on Wednesday. Public schools will be closed starting Monday in St. Charles County and Wednesday in Jefferson County.
Extracurricular activities and athletics competitions will stop while the schools are closed. Districts are establishing meal services and remote learning programs to help students during the closures.
“We will continue to evaluate this situation with the St. Charles County Public Health Department and government in the coming weeks to ensure a safe environment before students and staff return,” said Jason Sefrit, superintendent of the City of St. Charles School District.
Religious schools are also closing, including Archdiocese of St. Louis schools and Jewish community day schools.
The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday evening released new recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19. In response, leaders from five local jurisdictions — St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Louis and Madison counties, as well as the city of St. Louis — banned gatherings of more than 50 and recommended that all schools close.
“This really is a historic time for our country,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. “But it is something that we will work through. And having kids home for an extended period of time and out of school is complicated, and everyone recognizes that.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Saturday mandated that schools close statewide. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has not yet made a similar announcement, but he did follow the CDC’s guidance and issue a statewide ban of public gatherings larger than 50 people.
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