Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia speaks to the media following a tour of McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, on Thursday, February 13, 2020. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the AJC)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With deadline nearing, Kemp faces decision on how long to keep schools shuttered

Gov. Brian Kemp is nearing a decision on how long to extend an order closing schools to curb the spread of coronavirus, with less than a week to go on his mandate that Georgia’s public schools and colleges should be shuttered until March 31. 

The governor said Wednesday he’s in “constant communication” with schools Superintendent Richard Woods and had a “frank conversation” with educational leaders Tuesday about the pandemic’s fallout on the school system.

“I’m taking those suggestions and I’m chewing on them, so I can give them some direction,” he told WGAU, an Athens-based radio station. 

“They want direction from a statewide perspective and we’re now in that place. I don’t mind taking that leadership role to do that. And they need that with enough time so they can prepare whatever that decision may be, and I’ve committed to them that I’ll do that.”

Kemp announced on March 16 the closure of all public schools and colleges through the end of the month, the same day state lawmakers voted to ratify a public health emergency that granted him new powers to suspend state laws and restrict travel. 

By then, school districts accounting for more than 1.7 million of Georgia’s 1.8 million students had already suspended classes and most Georgia colleges shifted to online coursework. 

Some of the largest school systems have been vague about their plans for the rest of the school year, with several suggesting last week they may return to brick-and-mortar learning in mid-April after Spring Break.

Still, none can say with certainty when the pandemic that’s killed dozens and sickened more than 1,000 in Georgia can be contained.

More: Many metro Atlanta schools undecided on when kids will return

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.