Governor orders Salem-Keizer schools, all others in the state, closed in a move to slow coronavirus spread

NOTE: Keizertimes is providing free access to its content related to the coronavirus as a community service. Subscriptions help support this.

SALEM – Turning to a “last resort” she hoped to avoid, Gov. Kate Brown Thursday night ordered all Oregon schools closed for at least two weeks to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, affecting 583,000 students from Portland to Ashland, from Coos Bay to Nyssa.

The stunning directive will shutter schools from Monday, March 16, until Tuesday, March 31. Brown said in announcing her decision that students would return to class on Wednesday, April 1.

“I have heard from superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, and students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate schools due to workforce issues and student absences,” Brown said in her statement.

The development will disrupt life not only at schools but in homes and businesses across Oregon as thousands of parents face the prospect of children at home. The closure will be particularly challenging for low-income or homeless families whose children count on free meals from school.

“So many of our families depend on school in order for parents to go to their jobs, and for students to access health care and receive nutrition,” the governor said.

She said she was left with “little choice” but also was blunt that the health threat to Oregonians will persist.

“I want to be very clear,” Brown said. “Sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus.”