Loudoun County Public Schools will remain closed through at least April 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Eric Williams announced in a written statement Monday evening.
"We are focused on developing the plans and acquiring the resources required to maintain the continuity of education for all LCPS students," Williams wrote. His announcement comes hours after Loudoun County declared a local emergency in response to the spread of coronavirus, for which five Loudoun residents have so far tested positive.
Schools are scheduled to reopen April 13 though, per Williams, "this seems unlikely based on the information known at this time." He added the division is preparing for a possible extended closure for six to 12 weeks from now, if not longer.
"We appreciate that this possibility will have significant additional impacts on the students, staff and families who are part of our community, and we are working diligently to address those issues," Williams wrote, closely echoing his words to the public last week.
During the closure, LCPS will provide optional, Internet-based learning programs consistent with students' set curriculum. Williams said this program aims to "[reinforce] skills and knowledge that have been previously taught," adding they will not be graded. Students can access these optional resources at lcps.org/continuityofeducation.
To accommodate future distance learning initiatives, Williams said the school system has — "with extensive support from the Loudoun County School Board" — ordered 15,000 additional Chromebook laptops for students grades 3 through 12.
LCPS hopes each student in those grades who does not yet have a device would receive one, and that these students will have the opportunity to pick one up at their designated schools "as early as the week of March 23." The superintendent said social distancing measures would be taken for this pickup process.
Loudoun County School Nutrition Services will continue to provide its free meal service to students Monday through Friday during the closure. This service includes breakfasts and lunches served both at schools and via school buses to more than 200 locations around the county.
Several resources exist for community members who have questions regarding the pandemic. LCPS launched a COVID-19 telephone hotline at 1 p.m. Monday, which can be reached at 571-252-6499. Families can also visit the division's "COVID-19 Preparedness" webpage at lcps.org/COVID19.
Finally, Williams encouraged the LCPS community to refrain from spreading rumors regarding the health status of classmates, staff or other community members. He added nobody connected to LCPS has yet tested presumptive positive.
"We deeply care about the well-being of all students and staff, and the anxiety that rumors can create pertaining to an already challenging situation is not helpful," Williams wrote.
This is the third LCPS closure-related announcement since last week: Williams said early March 12 schools would be closed through March 20, before Gov. Ralph Northam (D) the next day ordered all K-12 schools in the commonwealth closed through March 27.