On Sunday, March 15, Governor Chris Sununu issued an executive order requiring all public schools to close starting on Monday, March 16, and move to a remote learning model by Monday, March 23. The order, which was announced at a press conference, is in response to the rapidly evolving situation around COVID-19, known as the coronavirus. State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan also said that the number of confirmed cases in New Hampshire has risen to 13 as of Sunday.
Starting on Monday, March 16, all public schools will be closed to students. School administrators, educators, and staff can use this upcoming week to develop a plan on how to deliver remote instruction. According to the order, the remote instruction must begin no later than Monday, March 23 and must go through at least Friday, April 3. Governor Sununu said they will then reassess the situation.
Watch the full press event, courtesy of NHPR:
Ensuring food security for students
About 1 in 4 public school students in New Hampshire participate in school meal programs, and districts are looking for ways to ensure that these children receive healthy food even if school is closed. Some schools are offering drive-through meal programs for families to pick up supplies, while others will coordinate pickup times at existing bus stops.
The NH Department of Education has received a waiver from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would allow students to receive meals from school when they move to remote instruction, according to a press statement.
Schools who wish to continue meal service should contact Cheri White, Administrator of the Office of Nutrition Programs and Services at 603-271-3860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioner Edelblut said that the NH Department of Education will be working closely with districts to develop remote instruction plans.
For some districts, instruction would be fully online, while instruction in other districts may be fully “analog.” Others may have a hybrid online-analog model, depending on community needs.
For students who receive special education services, Edelblut said that services that can be provided remotely, should be delivered that way. However, students may require services and/or instruction that can only be provided in person.
“We will work [with] the school and bring in students in limited cohort sizes to provide services,” Edelblut told reporters on Sunday.
“In the next 48 hours, I’ll be issuing directives which will ensure that parents who need to miss work for the care of their children at home will be able to access state unemployment benefits. For those unable to stay at home, we will expand access to child care,” said Governor Sununu.
For more information on expanded child care, see the Executive Order issued on Friday.
The Governor also announced that state funding would be available to districts to deep clean and sanitize their schools.
“It is vital that we continue to work within our communities and support each other in this public health emergency, and we all have a role to play,” Commissioner Edelblut told reporters on Sunday.
NH General Court closed for the week
All legislative activity has also been suspended for at least one week, according to the General Court website. The State House will be closed to lawmakers, staff, and visitors, but is still open for governmental operations at this time.
The Commission to Study School Funding meeting, which was scheduled for Monday, March 16, is also cancelled.