All schools in Georgia will be closed for the remainder of March because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday night.

Kemp issued an executive order to close all elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the state from Wednesday until March 31. Many district in metro Atlanta, including Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools had already closed school buildings to students and teachers for this week, however.

Kemp’s order came on the heels of the Georgia General Assembly ratifying the governor’s declaration of a public health emergency in the state during a special session earlier on Monday. That declaration gave Kemp extra powers to protect the public during the outbreak.

“To keep our students, teachers, and administrators safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering the closure of all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020,” Kemp said in a statement. “This measure is critical to reducing local transmission in communities across our state, and I ask Georgians to continue to follow best practices — washing their hands regularly, isolating the elderly and chronically ill, and avoiding large events if possible — in the days and weeks ahead.”

GCPS initially announced on March 12 that schools would be closed through March 20, with a plan for the following week announced by Thursday. On Tuesday, GCPS told school leaders that the district was finalizing its plans to allow more school and district-level employees to work remotely beginning Wednesday.

Principals, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, student nutrition program personnel and head custodians will still report to schools to address the day-to-day operations. Some district-level staff will continue working at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee.

Cafeteria and transportation staff involved in organizing meal deliveries will continue to report for this week and next week, a district official said.

Buford City Schools has been utilizing digital learning platforms for its students. All Buford school and central office staff were instructed to work from home throughout the closure, beginning Monday.

Some custodial staff are reporting to keep buildings sanitized, and accounting personnel is reporting as-needed. All Buford staff, including hourly employees, will be paid through the closure, according to a district spokesperson.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education will still conduct its monthly meeting on Thursday with public forum beginning at 6:15 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 7 p.m. There will be no board recognitions and district staff attendance will be limited to department heads.

Gwinnett County Public Schools superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks told district employees on Monday that GCPS was considering its leave practices and work schedules given the situation and updates to federal guidance. The business agenda for Thursday’s board meeting includes three recommendations to review policies regarding employee leave.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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(15) comments

Concerned!!

Why are the office staff who have to report being treated as expendable??? The expendable employees are leaving the safety of their homes to ensure the phones are answered....guess that is what is most important in leadership’s eyes. Hope the leaders making these decisions can sleep at night. Office workers are replaceable, after all.

Concerned Citizen

Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday ordered public schools and colleges closed from Wednesday until at least March 31, after lawmakers ratified his weekend emergency declaration to fight the new coronavirus.Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered thousands of state employees to work from home and suspended non-essential travel for workers as coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers increase across the country and the virus claimed its first Georgia resident. So why is that Principals, AA's and bookkeepers have to go to the office while everyone else is working from home? How will they get compensated?

Hope Alive

This is very very disturbing to hear. GCPS please do better. These staff members are at much at risk as anyone else. They should NOT be required to report to these schools amid this health crisis. If the students and teachers lives were at risk in these environments, then what about the others?. Please allow these employees to work from home. Better to be safe than sorry

booksmart

Amen

I have concerns

Why are some employees allowed to work from home but not all? Why is GCPS putting school bus drivers and nutrition workers at risk? Why is GCPS putting the principal, the AA ,the bookkeeper, the head custodian and others that haven't been mentioned at risk when everyone else including assistant principals and custodians are allowed to work from home? If the governor ordered schools to closed, why are some people being made to report to work? GCPS did NOT think this through.

Mastini1

GCPS has always been this way ! It truly shows how much they care about the employees, which most of them are Gwinnett County citizens and parents of children that are Gwinnett county students. If it’s not safe for some it shouldn’t be safe for no one and the governor/ state needs to do something about this .

Concerned Citizen

district staff members should not be reporting to the office at all.

leahdevon

ALL school employees should be able to work from home! Why should certain employees be asked to put themselves at risk?

GwinnettResident13

I agree. ALL EMPLOYEES should be off, not just some. They all have families and Governor Kemp has shutdown schools for a reason. It's not fair to still have some employees working like they don't matter. GCPS should be ashamed! [ninja][alien]

booksmart

Yes, once again GCPS Administration is showing how little they truly care about what is going on at the school level, or with employees in general that they single out a group to work at the school during this health crisis.

MoonChild12

I do not understand why GCPS District Staff are still reporting to offices. If the schools are closed to comply with the Governor's Executive Order amid concerns that continued human contact will increase the spread of the virus, then why on earth are employees being placed in harms way? If it is not safe for the students to be in the buildings, then it is also not safe for the adults to be in the buildings.

booksmart

Amen.

gwinnettproud

Can someone explain to me why the GCPS bus drivers, principals and district staff reporting to offices when the Governor has declared a state of emergency and CLOSED schools in Georgia. Are these GCPS employees medical professionals who have been called to fight this virus? Doesn't make sense to me. Someone should followup and investigate this.

gwinnettproud

[angry] Can someone explain to me why the GCPS bus drivers, principals and district staff reporting to offices when the Governor has declared a state of emergency and CLOSED schools in Georgia. Are these GCPS employees medical professionals who have been called to fight this virus? Doesn't make sense to me. Someone should followup and investigate this.

booksmart

GCPS is not taking this health crisis seriously-ALL employees should be staying home, not just a select group. We need to be on the same page!

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