BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Schools across Maryland are preparing for a possible outbreak as COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, officials announced all public schools in the state will be closed next week and through Friday, March 27. School-sanctioned travel is also canceled.
All schools and school buses will be cleaned during the two weeks without classes, officials said. Schools are being asked to use spring break days as make-up days.
"Administrators, faculty, staff and parents and guardians should begin to immediately prepare for and to put into place measures for the continuity of educational services during a prolonged period of school closure," State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said. "Plans regarding childcare services are being developed by the state Department of Education at this time to ensure that the children of emergency services personnel, particularly those who are working in our health care facilities, will have access to childcare through a prolonged period of school closure."
Gov. Larry Hogan said private schools should consider taking the same steps.
The state has emphasized that caution is key.
In Baltimore, City Schools are preparing learning packets in the event they have to start teaching remotely.
A school in Baltimore County, the Park School in Pikesville, closed after a member of the school community showed symptoms that may suggest exposure to COVID-19.
The school said it has been in touch with public health officials at the county and state levels. At this time, no individual connected to the school has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Archbishop Spalding High School is closed for three days while a member of the school community is tested for COVID-19, after experiencing symptoms, the school said in an email Wednesday.
"Out of an abundance of caution and after consulting both government guidelines and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we have decided to close the school for at least the next three school days (Thursday, Friday, and Monday), pending the test results." said school president Kathleen K. Mahar and principal Amy M. Cannon.
They said if the test results are positive, they will work with the Department of Health on next steps to keep children safe in the community.
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Prince George's County Public Schools said Eleanor Roosevelt High School and College Park Academy will be closed March 12-13 for cleaning and sanitizing.
The school system said that an individual affiliated with both schools had close contact with someone who traveled to a country under a high-risk COVID-19 warning.
WBOC reports that the Salisbury School is closed for the rest of the week after a family from the school was notified they had possibly been exposed to the coronavirus on a domestic flight home at the end of the school's winter break.
According to WBOC, school officials said all members of the family remain healthy and have not been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The Salisbury School will undergo a deep cleaning while students are away, according to WBOC.
Governor Larry Hogan confirmed Wednesday evening three new cases of coronavirus in Maryland.
The State of Maryland has 12 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon.
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