School closures extended until May 4

Travis+Country+had+244+confirmed+cases+of+COVID-19+as+of+noon+on+Tuesday%2C+March+31%2C+according+to+the+City+of+Austin%27s+website.+

Photo by: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Travis Country had 244 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of noon on Tuesday, March 31, according to the City of Austin's website.

Faith Lawrence, Managing Editor

In accordance with President Donald Trump’s extension of social distancing policies for 30 more days announced on Sunday, March 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made an executive order on Tuesday, March 31 to extend the same policies through the end of April. Part of this order will extend all Texas school closures until Monday, May 4. 

Although school campuses will be closed, online schooling in Texas will continue. In addition to school closures, all non-essential businesses are to remain closed until May 4. Examples of essential businesses include grocery stores, hardware stores, healthcare, government services and childcare services. 

“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” Abbott said. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve.”

Essentially this closure will allow students to go back to school for only about four weeks until the end of the school year. Abbott said on Monday, March 30 that he had the power to shut schools down for the rest of the school year if deemed necessary. 

“I don’t like the idea of school being closed that long because I’m worried that my academics will suffer from prolonged online school,” junior Kaitlyn Muras said. “Being at home for so long has taken a toll on my mental and physical health, so going back to school as soon as possible would be ideal.”

This new order expands upon Abbott’s previous order in relation to minimizing social gatherings and contact with people outside of an individual’s household by expanding business closures to include tattoo studios and cosmetology salons. 

“I urge my fellow Texans to heed these heightened social distancing directives to protect their health and the health of those around them,” Abbott said. “By following these guidelines, we will limit the spread of COVID-19 and overcome this challenge together.”

*The story will be updated by Dispatch staff as more information is available.