Pennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened thousands and caused hundreds of deaths statewide, under an order signed Thursday by the state’s education secretary.
The extended shutdown order affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools. It means children will spend the rest of the year learning remotely.
The order applies through the last day of the current academic year, a date that varies among districts because calendars are set by school boards.
Gov. Tom Wolf made the decision after consulting with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Dr. Rachel Levine, the state health secretary, Wolf’s spokeswoman said Thursday.
Annette Stevenson with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association welcomed the decision.
“I think it’ll bring great relief to the schools and the school leaders, because what it’ll do is allow them to formulate the long-term plan instead of having this interim plan in place,” Stevenson said.
Rivera told The Associated Press that decisions about how to handle graduations, which are made by local school districts, will depend on the extent of social distancing and stay-at-home direction in place as the graduation season nears.
Some districts are making plans for virtual commencement exercises, Rivera said.
The AP’s Mark Scolforo And Michael Rubinkam contributed to this story