The top two private schools in Columbia, South Carolina announced extended campus closures – or “transitions to virtual learning” – on Sunday in connection with escalating concerns related to the 2019-2020 coronavirus (known officially as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19).
Heathwood Hall and Hammond School both sent notices to parents on Sunday announcing the decisions – which are likely to place additional pressure on South Carolina governor Henry McMaster to close government-run schools in response to the pandemic.
McMaster has yet to call for such closures, even after neighboring North Carolina ordered a two-week closure of its government-run schools.
Anyway, here is the announcement from Heathwood …
EFFECTIVE MONDAY, MARCH 16TH, HEATHWOOD WILL SUSPEND ALL REGULARLY SCHEDULED EVENTS, INCLUDING ALL CLASSES, EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, CHILDCARE AND EXTENDED DAY CARE, IN RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC.
“Our priority remains the safety of our Heathwood community and the continuity of our academic program,” the statement continued.
And here is the announcement from Hammond …
While we place a premium on classroom time and the interaction that occurs between teacher and student, we also acknowledge that this is an unprecedented time in our country and world. Having spoken with a number of medical experts within the Hammond community and beyond, we are committed to being socially conscious and doing our part to help mitigate transmission of the novel coronavirus.
According to the Hammond release, students are permitted to “gather any needed items from school” on Monday, March 16, but that beginning the following day – Tuesday, March 17 – “students and families should not return to campus and continue the virtual learning plan until further notice.”
In other words, classes – and all other activities – on both campuses are canceled indefinitely.
As of Sunday afternoon, 2019-nCoV had infected 153,527 people in 144 countries, killing 5,733 of them – according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the virus had infected 2,815 people in 49 states – killing 59 of them.
South Carolina has reported at least nineteen cases, with no known fatalities related to the disease as of this writing.
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