Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Monday afternoon ordering that all public schools, colleges and universities be closed starting Wednesday, March 18, through Tuesday, March 31.
"To keep our students, teachers, and administrators safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering the closure of all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020," said Governor Kemp. "This measure is critical to reducing local transmission in communities across our state, and I ask Georgians to continue to follow best practices - washing their hands regularly, isolating the elderly and chronically ill, and avoiding large events if possible - in the days and weeks ahead."
Kemp cited newly issued federal guidance on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for his action.
According to his executive order, “The Georgia Department of Public Health has determined that COVID-19 is spreading through Georgia communities and the number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia continues to rise; and further action is necessary to protect the health and safety of the population of Georgia.”
The University System of Georgia (USG) has decided that all 26 institutions will move to online instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester with extremely limited exceptions.
“Students are not allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from their institution, which will be forthcoming soon,” USG says in an online statement. “Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home, or who cannot find housing elsewhere. Students will receive specific instructions from campus leaders regarding when they will be allowed to return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students must follow those instructions. For those students who are unable to depart campus, we will make every effort to accommodate these students.”
The statement goes on to say “USG will be providing guidance to campuses on refunds for housing, dining, and other services. Students should wait for their campus to contact them.”
Institutions will remain open, with minimal staff physically on-site, to ensure continuity of certain services.
Habersham County School System announced shortly after that all school closures will follow the order and remain closed until March 31.