Virginia will keep schools closed through the rest of the school year, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday afternoon. 

Most area schools had previously announced they would be closed through Easter due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Northam said Monday school division leaders will decide how students will learn through the rest of the school year.

On Tuesday, the state’s Department of Education will issue guidance to help school divisions work through those issues and address equitability, Northam said.

Over the past few days, school divisions in Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax and Stafford counties have alerted communities to staff, administrators or students who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Riley O'Casey, president of the Prince William Education Association, told InsideNoVa on Monday that teachers are absolutely devastated to not be able to say goodbye to their students.

"I'm just shocked," O'Casey said.

She said it is an unprecedented situation.

Prince William County Public Schools closed its schools from Saturday, March 14, to at least April 14. Now, administrators, teachers and staff, students and families are dealing with a new reality.

O'Casey said there are many questions that come to mind after hearing Northam's decision, including if teachers will continue to get paid.

Prince William school officials previously said they will continue to pay full- and part-time employees during the closure until April 14. That plan also included paying active substitutes and temporary employees, who were hired before on or Feb. 13 and worked from Feb. 13 to March 13, an average of their previous pay for the last six months or if they're a newer employee, the average of their pay since being hired, according to the division. 

Another issue O'Casey is mindful of is some students may not have access to the internet and have a digital device to access optional academic resources online. Prince William schools have issued some digital devices to some students, but not to all.

On Friday, Prince William County Public Schools announced staff will not provide required instruction or give grades until at least April 14.

"Teachers were reaching out to students, 'here are activities, things to review,' but it was not required," O'Casey said.

In a message to families after Northam's announcement, Loudoun County Public Schools noted that administrators are "considering the implications of this news" from Northam and they are moving ahead with plans to begin distance learning on Monday, March 30.

Also Monday, the governor increased limitations on businesses for the next 30 days. Restaurants can remain open with takeout and delivery services only.

All recreation and entertainment services, including theaters and gyms, must close, along with any personal-care businesses, like barber shops and massage parlors. Those closures are in effect for 30 days starting Tuesday at midnight.

Non-essential retail establishments can remain open, if they keep to the 10-customer maximums and increase sanitation practices.

Essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies and supply-chain businesses can remain open.

This is a breaking news post. We'll update this page shortly.

Virginia coronavirus cases reach 254 on Monday
Prince William County schools alert three communities to coronavirus cases
Loudoun County elementary principal tests positive for COVID-19
Day care providers face new challenges in coronavirus crisis

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