OKLAHOMA CITY — The State Board of Education announced Monday plans to close all schools statewide until at least April 6 in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the closure will begin March 17. She said state education officials will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation to determine if it’s necessary to extend the closure.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of Oklahomans,” Hofmeister said in a statement. “It is critical that we do everything in our power to protect the health of our kids, their families, educators and all vulnerable populations. That need outweighs everything else. The OSDE has been working around the clock, and will continue to do so, to ease the burden of schools during this challenging time.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt said the decision was not made lightly but is the right thing to do based on the current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This closure will allow us time to further understand how COVID-19 is affecting Oklahoma and give students and staff a period of time to be protected from further community spread of the virus,” Stitt said. "We know closing schools has a significant impact on families, and we are committed to doing what we can to lessen that impact as we work to prioritize the health and safety of all Oklahomans.”

The state Board of Education will meet at 4 p.m. today to approve the closure.

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