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North Dakota K-12 schools to close for 5 days

COVID-19 – the coronavirus – has brought everyday life in large areas of China, Italy and Spain to a near standstill.

As the virus has spread, other areas have been affected similarly, though not to the extent of China.

As many as 300 million children in 22 countries have been affected by school closures linked to attempts to keep COVID-19 from spreading, The Associated Press reported last week. Here in the United States, officials in both higher education and lower grades are making contingency plans.

Add North Dakota’s student population to that number, following the governor’s announcement Sunday night that K-12 schools public and private will close for five days beginning today.

Good call. Why?

Schools are a germ’s dream, of course. Children with little regard for personal hygiene sneezing into the air, wiping their noses on their hands, then taking colds – or worse – home can be a big problem. Once the first cycle is completed, of course, the kids bring their families’ maladies to school with them.

Closing schools at any level is a serious decision, not just for students’ education but also for parents and other caregivers. If your 9-year-old can’t go to school, someone has to stay home with him or her. That means a missed day’s work – a serious matter for many families.

On the other hand, becoming ground zero for an outbreak of COVID-19 or any other serious disease is not an appealing prospect for educators.

We were holding out hope that COVID-19 would stay far enough away from our area that schools would not have to be dismissed until time for summer vacation. But that was not to be.

State officials are to be congratulated – and supported – for their bold, proactive position that clearly was not made in haste. It will buy us precious time to prepare for a potentially worse situation, or hopefully, a better one.

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