South Carolina public school students will remain out of school until May under a new order to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered state schools remain closed through the end of April, nine days after initial orders to close schools through March as the coronavirus continues to spread across South Carolina.
"We understand that the prospect of schools remaining closed for an extended period of time places stress and strain on parents and children," McMaster said in a joint statement with state Superintendent of Schools Molly Spearman.
"Rest assured, if there is any way to safely open our schools earlier, we will do that, but schools must remain closed to protect the health and safety of South Carolinians."
In Charleston, the school district had already taken steps to keep schools closed through spring break, which would have had students returning to class in mid-April. The latest state order further extends that by two weeks.
The new order applies to public colleges, universities, and technical colleges in South Carolina. College of Charleston and others have already moved to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester.
[content-3] McMaster's order comes as localities are also considering dramatic measures to keep people in their homes if at all possible to prevent outside interaction that might spread the coronavirus to vulnerable populations that may be especially susceptible to the respiratory disease it causes. Charleston City Council will consider such a measure at its meeting Tuesday night, Mayor John Tecklenburg said at a press conference today.
There have been 298 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina as of the latest update on Monday, with 31 in Charleston County. Five people who have been diagnosed with the disease have died, all elderly individuals with underlying health conditions.