This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Gov. Greg Abbott Friday announced that all Texas schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, Abbott had ordered schools closed until at least May 4.
Under the governor's order, all public, private and higher education schools will remain closed through the rest of the semester. Abbott said in consultation with health experts and educators, they determined it would be unsafe to resume school.
The announcement came as Abbott laid out a plan for opening Texas back up.
Teachers and other school personnel will be allowed to return to school for administrative duties, online learning or cleaning out classrooms, Abbott said.
"We applaud Gov. Abbott for following the advice of his medical experts in understanding the vulnerability of our children, our teachers and staff, and our parents when they are in close proximity in classroom environments," said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, in a statement.
Many superintendents across North Texas expressed support of the decision, saying they looked forward to working towards opening safely in the fall.
"We have been preparing that this was going to be inevitable,” said Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Dallas ISD superintendent.
Students still have to finish their online classes. Schools will also be communicating about continuing services, such as food service, the return of any school equipment, and plans for summer school.
The Texas Education Agency will update districts about graduation proceedings and will help colleges and universities with how to conclude the semester and proceed with summer courses.
"A lot depends on what happens next. We think that face to face graduation in May is probably not going to happen. We are going to hold out on having some kind of face to face graduation in June if not pivot to virtual,” said Dr. Hinojosa.
With schools remaining closed for every student from kindergarten through graduate school, many students, teachers and parents are wondering what will happen next.
“This is a very tough time and we are going to try and help as much as we can but very challenging,” said Congressman Marc Veasey.
On a positive note Hinojosa says high profile speakers are stepping up to perhaps give virtual commencement speeches andremind graduates that the future is still bright.
Following Abbott's update on Friday, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) canceled all remaining 2019-2020 activities and championships. That includes practices, rehearsals, and workouts, which are suspended until further notice, the UIL said.
"With schools in sessions, interscholastic activities cannot continue," said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt.
The TEA, which oversees public education in the state, tweeted support for Abbott's announcement, saying, "Texas continues to prioritize the health and safety" of students.
"TEA fully supports the governor's actions and continues to work closely with districts across the state to ensure students are getting what they need," the statement read.
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