Shelby County Schools will be closed starting Friday and reopen March 30, a week after spring break, because of “rapidly changing conditions” of COVID-19, the district said.
The Memphis district’s planned spring break starts Monday, and staff were already scheduled to do deep cleanings of all schools.
The announcement Thursday morning came a day after a Memphis employee who had been quarantined for coming in contact with the area’s first case was cleared by the health department to go back to work.
“Due to national developments and rapidly changing conditions regarding the spread of COVID-19, we feel this is the best course of action,” said Superintendent Joris Ray. “Closing schools is never a decision that we take lightly. Considering these unique circumstances, we must lead through the moment.”
While the district is closed, staff plan to “conduct a full assessment of risks for students and staff who will be traveling during spring break and perform deep cleaning in all district buildings.”
“While there are presently no confirmed cases in Shelby County Schools, the cases in surrounding areas make it imperative that the district continues its proactive measures,” said Miska Clay-Bibbs, the school board’s chairwoman in a statement.
Ray said the district’s central office and administrative buildings will remain open during scheduled business hours, and all salaried and hourly school employees will be paid during the extended break.
Shelby County Schools is the fourth district in Tennessee to cancel classes amid coronavirus worries, but is the longest closure so far. On Wednesday, districts in Nashville, Williamson County, and Franklin announced they would close the rest of the week and into spring break.