Update: March 12, 4:53 a.m.

Superintendent Eric Williams has cancelled school for Loudoun County students March 12 through March 20.

Williams sent the following message to the LCPS community early Thursday:

"I sincerely apologize for sending you a message regarding school closure with minimal time to make adjustments; however, given the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus, Loudoun County Public Schools are closed today, Thursday, March 12th through Friday, March 20th. All activities are also cancelled at this time. Administrative Offices will open at twelve today with regular office hours on other days during the school closure."

Williams said he is not aware of anyone connected to the school system testing positive for coronavirus.

His message continued:

"As you may know, the World Health Organization declared the novel Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic yesterday, travel between the United States and Europe was recently suspended, and some events and large gatherings have been postponed or cancelled in our region, state, and nation. Loudoun County has experienced at least one presumptive positive case of COVID-19. While Loudoun County has not experienced the extent of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 as some other areas within our nation or globally and has not had cases that meet the definition of community transmission, we are making this decision out of an abundance of caution. We plan to announce next steps by the end of next week.

The safety and well-being of Loudoun County Public Schools’ students, staff, and families is our highest priority; therefore, we need time as a school system to reassess this rapidly evolving situation by taking time to:

•continue our daily consultation with the Loudoun County Health Department to consider the latest information regarding presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Loudoun County as well as recommendations based on that information to determine whether to reopen schools on March 23;

•review recommendations from other experts, such as the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC;

•consider the community mitigation strategies for school systems recently set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as any related follow-up recommendations; and

•develop specific mitigation strategies to implement when schools reopen, as early as March 23.

While we are unaware of any presumptive positive cases of individuals connected to schools, schools will be thoroughly cleaned before they reopen.

Please continue to exercise proper hand washing with soap and other universal preventive actions such as covering your cough, sneezing into your elbow or tissue (throw away tissue), avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at home.

We will provide you with multiple updates during the closure. Among numerous issues, we are considering different ways of supporting students who rely on our school meals program due to food insecurity. We are also developing guidance to principals and teachers regarding potential distance learning options and expectations in the event that the closure is extended.

Thank you for your support and understanding as we balance proactive measures of caution and timely communication."

Original report: March 11, 6:05 p.m.

Loudoun County Public Schools will close for a teacher work day March 20 to prepare faculty for the possibility of distance learning resulting from COVID-19, Superintendent Eric Williams announced Wednesday night.

"...all teachers will participate in training and structured planning time regarding distance learning options," Williams wrote.

To further aid distance learning efforts, the Loudoun County School Board has approved the transfer of $5 million to accelerate a one-to-one rollout of Chromebooks to students grades 3 through 12, according to LCPS.

Williams also announced LCPS has canceled all in- and out-of-state overnight field trips from March 11 to April 30. All scheduled day trips, except those destined to New York state, will proceed as planned. Student participation in instructional field trips, athletic trips and other outings remains optional.

Regarding attendance, the superintendent referred to Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend's remarks at Tuesday's School Board meeting. "...if there was no underlying medical basis to keep [your] child home during influenza season, it is unlikely that the condition would prevent the child from safely attending school," Williams wrote.

He further encouraged families to visit the LCPS "COVID-19 Preparedness" webpage, where visitors can watch presentations to the School Board from Goodfriend and LCPS Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Asia Jones, as well as other information and preventive strategies. That page is available at lcps.org/Page/227421.

"LCPS has not announced any changes to the regular school schedule -- other than canceling classes for the March 20 teacher work day -- at this time," school system spokesman Rob Doolittle told the Times-Mirror.

This is the third announcement in two weeks from LCPS regarding coronavirus. Most recently, Williams announced Monday all LCPS-sponsored international travel had been suspended through June 30, as well as the Loudoun Youth International Leadership Summit that had been planned for March 20.

(28) comments

Reality

Why is it taking LCPS so long to get distant learning started. I have talked with friends in NC, OK, CO, NY, and they started immediately. Seriously, 1.6B budget and you just now sending out messages for getting wifi hotspots to those in need. I get it and applaud you for that, but your screwing up. Get our kids back into the classroom, by that I mean virtual. Oh wait, you are not ready a d you post a do it yourself online solution. Reality check, that is not gonna work either. Stop play bureaucratic office and get something done. Our tax dollars at work - right...

BobOhneiserEsq

Interesting to see such a major decision done without any apparent input or review by the school board. School facilities are actually community facilities and would be used if there were an emergency requiring large amounts of the population to be cared for or housed in the schools so I hope the BOS was consulted and gave the nod for this even if the school board was ignored. :-)

amerigirl

Why would the school board have anything to say about school closings? They don't have a say on snow days.

CindyLou

This is the most ridiculous thing to do at this time. So all these parents and kids are going to sit home the next 2 weeks? HA! They are all at Walmart, Costco, the gym, the mall, or children are in a daycare setting anyway or at the worst......left home alone. They are spreading the virus more than they every could sitting in school and children don't seem to have an issue with this virus. There is no quarantine procedures put in place with this stupid move?? What a joke. Also, the comments about liberals??? Really ok.....you Republicans have a big issue handing out money to those that need it but have no problem paying LCS employees for sitting home? The entire world has gone bonkers and King Bonk in Washington, DC is the head bonker.

amerigirl

Kind of, but with limited test kits they won't test children unless they are very sick. Yesterday a teacher was told just that and to take his daughter home in Fairfax. Schools are close quarters and it could spread rapidly, especially since some of the younger carriers should very little side effect of the virus. But they can still spread it to their parents. There are also grandparents that live in households, quite a few.

hardworkingamerican

Ok, well hopefully my comments get posted. First the younger generation doesn't care about this. As an example just go to Ida Lee in the workout room where they spend their time on their phones texting and talking while making people wait for machine usage, then when they get off after texting and sweating on the machine they just go to their next text/machine appointment. If you ask or remind them about wiping down the machine with the supplied items they roll their eyes, smirk and say, hey I don't see anyone else doing it. Obviously they don't because their heads are up their "phones". So stop with all this garbage, the main people that are at risk is the older generation who by the way does wipe down their machines and get the Democrats tax increase. Get a grip America, people who get the flu shots and vaccines and so forth still get the flu and immune compromised people still die from it. As said closing school just destroys family lives and the hard working parents. Of course have no fear, Northam is here with his budget increase and tax increase to make your life better. Oh let's not forget him taking your guns away or as Quid Pro Quo Joe says, your AR-14s?? What an idiot.

Turn VA RED for life in 2020. Remove Every Democrat

LeesburgD

Hardworkingamerican, I love going to Ida Lee, but I could not agree with you more regarding the wiping down of the equipment and the kids on their phones. (I now go early mornings before they arrive.) I am "social distancing" from the gym until the end of the month. I have a remote job, so Ida Lee is my greatest source of exposure to any kind of illness - be it a cold or COVID-19.

More Cowbell

Was this so LCPS won't be held accountable? Williams is good at that. Kids outside playing with other kids.

LoudounWatchdog

There was a Heritage HS student who died from the flu in January and schools weren't closed, and schools did not close in 2015 when Madison Small died from mennincoccal meningitis -- although meningitis is not as contagious as COVID-19 This is all about liberals like David Goodfriend, and Northam's VDH and the deep state bureaucrats at the CDC creating panic. More Americans died from Ebola and H1N1 and there were no school closings, no panic buying at Costco and Wegmans. It's all about creating panic and political one-upmanship for the Democrats for the 20202 elections, and sadly, the supposed intelligent people in Loudoun are panicking and not asking questions of the Democrats who rule them -- and this paper certainly won't ask those questions either since it's in the tank with the Democrats

loudoun fan

You have every right to blame this on politicians. But, Dr. Goodfriend has absolutely not been in panic mode. He's been a steady hand explaining what the virus actually is. He did not publicly recommend countywide shut downs.

amerigirl

Bad things happen sometimes. It’s sad that she died but there are no guarantees in life, that is why people should be more vigilant. Goodfriend is a liberal? Deep state? You’ve got all the ‘right’ things to say. If you don’t like someone then they are liberal? Do you think we may have learned a lesson from other diseases being in this country? I hope so. The corona virus has just gotten started in the US, but you feel confident enough to say there will be less deaths? Let’s hope that we have learned form the past and take the precautions to make that a reality. It’s not about panic, the only one panicking is trump about his “numbers” and what the stock market might do to his chances of re-election. He doesn’t care if you live or die. The fact that teachers are getting training to recognize and deal with this disease is a plus. Many of them are older or have conditions that could make it much worse on them. You just want to blame dems for something, could you atheist hold off until the US is healthier?

Jeanne T

"Jeanne, Israel?"

Yes, indeed. This was reported in the Times of India on March 12 (search "Scientists in Israel likely to announce they developed coronavirus vaccine"), as well as the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, which quoted medical sources from scientists at Israel's Institute for Biological Research. Israel is a world leader in advances in technology and science.

Many advances in medicine (including medical devices) and technology have come out of Israel, and that is should not surprise anyone, considering the proportionately large number of Nobel Prize winners who are Jewish vs. the overall population of winners. Just think where we might be today if the Holocaust hadn't occurred and all of those Jewish doctors and scientists had not been murdered. It's a staggering thought.

FYI, and as one example of Israeli advances, in 1959 Simcha Blass and Kibbutz Hatzerim developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter; drip irrigation has been around since ancient times. However, "The emitter concept was developed several years earlier by Simcha and his son Yeshayahu in Israel. Instead of releasing water through tiny holes easily blocked by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways which decreased the water velocity as it exited the piping." I saw this in practice when I visited Israel several years ago. As you can imagine, water is a precious commodity in the desert. This particular method of drip irrigation is how the Israelis have turned the desert into productive farms for growing food. It is absolutely stunning to see in some places the contrast between a lush, flourishing settlement on one side of a road and a barren desert on the other, which is exactly what we saw when we were driving to Hebron.

amerigirl

Jeanne, you don’t trust google who let’s you pick your own site to go to but you trust the Times of India? OMG! More than 20 potential vaccines for preventing coronavirus disease are in development around the world according to WHO. Israel is working on a corona virus that is from poultry, there are many corona viruses. This virus infects birds, and is just one strain of coronavirus. It’s not the same as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Sure, it would be great if it is true and I wish them all the luck in the world. But who knows if it would be the correct strain? Australia thinks it has already developed a vaccine for the current stain of the virus and should be available by the end of the year. This just came out; in fact, it is dated tomorrow because of the time zones. They know with certainty that the vaccine works on coronavirus. not COVID-19, but its close relative, MERS, the lethal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and have begun testing. Do you think anyone really cares about irrigation systems right now? I think it’s great that Israel had made advances and hope they continue to do so.

Chris McHale

Will these days count as "snow days" or will they have to make them up?

WisdomGuidedByExperience

The LCPS app on my iPhone has ZERO information about the closure.

jke

Home schooling tryout.

Waterfordresident

This is stupid. All the overreaction fueled by the media. People...just relax. Good lord just calm down and keep doing what you have been doing. Nothing. Like this was happening during the H1N1 outbreak with 61 million affected and over 12,000 deaths. SMH

LoudounBornandRaised92

Okay but at least the flu vaccine and flu medication was helpful in reducing symptoms or weakening the H1N1. There is no vaccine to this virus and while some of us younger people might not show symptoms or get better pretty quickly, there is a large demographic that will not respond as well.

Jeanne T

There is no vaccine.....yet. But there are many scientists working on one. And Israel has actually been on top of this since almost the beginning of the outbreak. No surprise there!

amerigirl

Jeanne, Israel? The country that is closest now is Australia, the University of Queensland have recently produced a vaccine candidate for COVID-19, aiming to produce it at a larger scale for additional testing. The initiative was co-funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI, a public-private coalition headquartered in Norway that wants to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines. Scientists in academia, industry and governments are all trying to create a vaccine, not just Israel.

Loudounest

The lack of broadband Internet in western Loudoun will make learning and working from home a challenge. Thanks to the BOS who have studied and studied this issue without resolve for years. See you at the coffee shop!

RandomName2019

Every time I hear this statement I chuckle a bit. Western Loudoun has fought growth and development for decades partially because every study has shown that growth increases along infrastructure improvement pathways. You will not get broadband independently from other growth.

AreYouKidding

The reason it hasn't been resolved is that there is very little the BOS can actually do about the issue. State law leaves them with basically no leverage to force providers to actually provide service and in effect prevents the county itself from getting into the business of providing broadband internet.

What amazes me is that with all the complaining about lack of broadband internet western Loudoun hasn't done what rural areas have done for decades when electric and communication utilities wouldn't provide service, form a co-op.

jke

Have you come up with a way to pay for your broadband without tax payers dollars, No, then shut up!

Stevens R. Miller

My board was one of those. Roughly, western residents told us, "We want broadband, but no visible antennas." It pretty much ended there.

EvilHomer

It is absolutely irresponsible and gross negligence not to close schools immediately. Distributing Chromebooks and getting closer to spring break should not be the primary goal here. Students will be infected, and while they will mostly be okay, they will take the virus home to their parents and grandparents. This decision also sends the message that LCPS could not care less about the health of its employees.

No agency has ever regretted an abundance of caution. This is a shameful excuse for a response.

applicant45554

Should NOT count as school... typo

applicant45554

Closing school is a killer for working parents and not too good for students either obviously. I wish they’d

find another way or time to roll out this training. Distance learning should count as school for elementary either. Just cancel school now if necessary and have makeups in the summer

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