BOB BROWN/TIMES-DISPATCH/Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday discussed the state of emergency now in effect in Virginia in response to the coronavirus, joined by state Health Commissioner Norman Oliver (from left), State Epidemiologist Lilian Peake, Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday ordered all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks. 

"Schools will close from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, at a minimum. Localities will maintain authority over specific staffing decisions to ensure students maintain continuity of services or learning, while protecting the public health of teachers and staff," Northam's office said in a news release.

School systems around the U.S. have been weighing whether to close schools as more cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are confirmed.

“We are taking this action to keep Virginians as safe and healthy as possible, and to minimize exposure to COVID-19,” Northam said in a news release. “I recognize this will pose a hardship on many families, but closing our schools for two weeks will not only give our staff time to clean and disinfect school facilities, it will help slow the spread of this virus. This is a fluid and fast-changing situation. We will do everything possible to ensure that students who rely on school nutrition programs continue to have access to meals, and that the disruption to academics is as minimal as possible.”

This has been a breaking news update.

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