Gov. Kate Brown has announced that all K-12 public schools in the state of Oregon will be closed Monday through the end of March.

The school closure announcement comes on the heels of Brown’s decision to ban public gatherings of more than 250 people for four weeks.

Oregon Gov. Katie Brown held a press conference in Portland, Oregon, on March 12, 2020, to give an update on the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.

Oregon Gov. Katie Brown held a press conference in Portland, Oregon, on March 12, 2020, to give an update on the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.

Justin Katigbak/Sipa via AP Images

Brown said she heard from superintendents, teachers, parents and school board members who said they were struggling to operate in the wake of staff shortages and student absences. The governor said a lot of concern was also voiced for teachers over the age of 60 with underlying medical issues.

“I want to be very clear: sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus,” Brown said in a statement. “While children are home, when at all possible, they should not be in the care of older adults or those with underlying health issues that are most at-risk from COVID-19.”

During the closure, Brown is calling on school districts to develop plans to operate schools when students return on Wednesday, April 1. School districts should also use the time to ensure they have adequate cleaning supplies for increased cleaning protocols, the governor’s release stated.

The state will track the impact the closures could have on instructional time. And the Early Learning Division will work to identify ways to support child care needs for the state’s most vulnerable families, as well as health care professionals and first responders, the governor stated.

“Due to the evolving nature of this crisis, these timelines will be reevaluated in late March in consultation with school administrators,” Colt Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education, said in a statement.

Brown is holding a press conference Friday morning to answer more questions about the closures. 

The Oregon Health Authority reported three new cases of COVID-19 Thursday afternoon, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 24 across 11 counties.