Burlington schools are slated to be closed on Monday

The Burlington Area School District will be closed Monday and schools throughout the state must close by Wednesday and remain closed until April 6 under a mandate issued by Gov. Tony Evers late Friday afternoon.

Burlington Area School District Superintendent Stephen Plank in an automated phone message to area parents said the district’s schools would be closed starting Monday.

School administrators throughout the state will have until Wednesday to come with a plan to close schools for at least two-and-a-half weeks, under a mandate issued Friday by Evers.

The order is an attempt on the governor’s part to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which as of Friday afternoon had resulted in 19 confirmed cases in the state – including one in Racine County – and expectations of many more.

Evers, according to a news release issued by his office today, directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order mandating the statewide closure of all K-12 schools, public and private.

“Closing our schools is not a decision I made lightly, but keeping our kids, our educators, our families, and our communities safe is a top priority as we continue our work to respond to and prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin,” Evers said in the news release.

The mandated closure will begin on Wednesday, March 18, in order to give school districts time to make plans for kids, families, educators, and staff, according to the news release. School districts, particularly those in counties with reported cases of COVID-19, may choose to close earlier than Wednesday.

The anticipated reopening date is April 6, however, the reopening date is subject to change pending further information, according to the governor’s office.

Earlier Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 11 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 19 cases, including one individual who has recovered.

“Kids and families across Wisconsin often depend on our schools to access food and care,” Evers said. “We are going to continue working to do everything we can to ensure kids and families have the resources and support they need while schools are closed.”

On Thursday the governor signed an executive order that directs the Department of Health Services to take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to incidences of COVID-19. It allows the department to purchase, store, or distribute appropriate medications, regardless of insurance or other health coverage, as needed to respond to the emergency, according to the governor’s office.

It also authorizes state funds to support local health departments with costs related to isolation and quarantine, as well as the use of the Wisconsin National Guard.

According to the governor’s office, decisions about implementation of other community measures will be made by state and local officials based on CDC and DHS guidance, as well as the scope of the outbreak.

Check back here for additional information on this developing story and see next week’s print editions published by Southern Lakes Newspapers.