Inslee orders all greater Seattle area schools to close

Generic school classroom

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — As the death toll from the new coronavirus reached at least 31 in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday ordered that all public and private K-12 schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties be closed for six weeks.

The schools must close by March 17, Inslee said, and remain shuttered through April 24.

Inslee said the decision came after many discussions with local school officials.

The order affects 43 school districts and nearly 600,000 students, which is more than half of the state’s student population.

Several school districts already announced they will close due to the outbreak. Seattle Public Schools with 53,000 students, closed beginning Thursday.

Inslee ordered his staff to help create a plan so support services, like child care and school lunches, can continue throughout the closure. He said the state will provide childcare at no cost to families with parents who work in the medical field or as first responders.

“Closing school districts will help slow the transmission of this dangerous virus,” Inslee said.

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