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Coronavirus preparation in North Carolina schools: Here’s what to know


We’ll be updating this story weekly. We are focusing our coverage on impact to North Carolina schools.

Click here for our Ask & Answer series where we answer your questions about COVID-19 and schools.

Click here for EdNC’s list of school closures, including announcements from community colleges, which is updated daily. 

Do you have information about how COVID-19 is affecting North Carolina schools, or a question you want us to answer? Please email MWillson@EdNC.org or fill out this form.

The latest

Updated on April 30, 8 a.m.

As of April 30, there are 9,948 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in 98 of 100 counties in North Carolina. Click here for the case count, map, and the latest updates from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Officials in North Carolina have announced a helpline for questions or concerns about coronavirus at 866-462-3821. For the latest nationwide, please visit the CDC’s coronavirus website. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations has projections by state.

Updated on April 19, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 19, there are 6,193 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in 93 of 100 counties in North Carolina. Click here for the case count, map, and the latest updates from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Officials in North Carolina have announced a helpline for questions or concerns about coronavirus at 866-462-3821. For the latest nationwide, please visit the CDC’s coronavirus website. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations has projections by state.

Resources for educators

We curated lists of reliable information educators can use to keep up-to-date and to help plan their response.

Checklist to help administrators plan and protect the health of students:

Advice for staying healthy

According to the CDC, here’s how you can take precautions to keep yourself, your family, and your community healthy:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Archive of daily updates starting on March 3

Updated on April 15, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 15, there are 5,123 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in 93 of 100 counties in North Carolina.

Updated on April 8, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 8, there are 3,426 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 7, 10:15 a.m.

As of April 7, there are 3,221 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 6, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 6, there are 2,870 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 5, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 5, there are 2,585 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 4, 11:00 a.m.

As of April 4, there are 2,402 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 3, 11:25 a.m.

As of April 3, there are 2,093 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 2, 10:55 a.m.

As of April 2, there are 1,857 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on April 1, 10:00 a.m.

As of April 1, there are 1,584 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 31, 9:05 a.m.

As of March 31, there are 1,498 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 30, 11:00 a.m.

As of March 30, there are 1,307 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 29, 10:35 a.m.

As of March 29, there are 1,040 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 28, 10:55 a.m.

As of March 28, there are 935 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.  

Updated on March 27, 4:26 p.m.

As of March 27, there are 763 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 121 ordering North Carolinians to stay at home beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., and shall remain in effect for thirty (30) days from that date or unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded by another applicable Executive Order. Here is an FAQ about the order.

Updated on March 26, 10:15 a.m.

As of March 26, there are 636 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

A group of public, private, and nonprofit partners have come together and launched a recovery-lending program to “help stabilize North Carolina’s small business sector.” The Rapid Recovery loan program is available for up to $50,000, based on the business’s current revenue and proceeds from the loan may only be used for maintaining or restarting a business. The program is supported by seven lending partners, four supporting partners, and the Golden Leaf Foundation. Apply or learn more here

The Institute for Emerging Issues put together a “Resources for Parents and Caregivers with Children at Home,” about how to talk to your child about coronavirus and keeping children occupied and learning. 

Ask & Answer: We’re answering your questions about COVID-19 and education in N.C.

Updated on March 25, 10:35 a.m.

As of March 25, there are 504 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 24, 9:45 a.m.

As of March 24, there are 398 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Here is the stay in place order from Charlotte.

The State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) released a memo asking for healthcare volunteers

“North Carolina has built a medical response capability through our state’s Health Care Coalitions (HCCs) that can augment all levels of care to citizens affected by a disaster event. The capability includes medical supplies and equipment, as well as volunteer health care and medical professionals who are willing to deploy to affected areas or facilities to provide patient care,” it says.

Updated on March 23, 8:35 a.m.

As of March 23, there are 297 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina at 297, Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that he is extending the order to close all public schools until May 15. Previously, schools were only slated to be closed until March 30.

Additionally, Cooper said his plan is for not only teachers but also all support staff to get paid for the duration of the school closures. He said he has tasked state Superintendent Mark Johnson and the State Board of Education with coming up with a plan to make that happen. He also said that he hopes schools will reopen this school year.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are being opened as emergency child care sites. Meanwhile, Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at the press conference that the state is working on new health guidelines around child care.

Child care is being prioritized for “first responders, emergency management staff, hospital staff, frontline healthcare providers, nursing and adult group home staff, child care program staff, food service staff, and others providing critical support, as well as children who are homeless or in unstable or unsafe living arrangements,” according to a press release from Cooper’s office.

EdNC’s full article here

On Monday, Cooper also ordered all gyms, movie theatres, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo shops to close by Wednesday. 

The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) announced today that they will extend the April 15 tax filing deadline to July15 to mirror the deadline change from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Updated on March 22, 10:16 a.m.

As of March 22, there are 255 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 21, 10:30 a.m.

As of March 21, there are 184 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Updated on March 20, 11:00 a.m.

As of March 20, there are 137 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.  

A new resource has been launched in collaboration of Google, the UN and UNESCO. Help for Teachers is A temporary hub of information and tools for teachers during the coronavirus crisis. Explore it here, and follow the hashtag #teachfromhome

This afternoon, Charles Jeter, executive director of Government Affairs, Policy, and Board Services for Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools, sent a request for relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic to President Pro Tem Sen. Phil Berger, Speaker of the House Tim Moore, Chair of the State Board Eric Davis, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. You can read the request for relief here.

Updated on March 19, 5:00 p.m.

As of March 19, there are 97 cases of COVID-19 (also known as a coronavirus) in North Carolina.

Today marked the first cases of “community spread” in North Carolina, which means “people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected,” according to the CDC.

Updated on March 18, 5:00 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper announced that “NC 2-1-1, an information and referral phone service by United Way of North Carolina, is now being used as a resource for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Individuals can 2-1-1 for confidential, free information about health and human resources. Sign up for general information and updates about COVID-19 by texting COVIDNC to 898211.” More info here

State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is forming bipartisan legislative groups to work remotely on “policy measures addressing the COVID-19 crisis and is seeking input from North Carolina residents on reforms that will support families and businesses during the unprecedented emergency.” North Carolinians who wish to provide policy and budget recommendations to the Speaker’s legislative working groups should email his office at tim.moore@ncleg.gov. 

EdNC is getting lots of questions about broadband access. Take a look at the NC Department of Information and Technology “Broadband availability recommendations: Connecting North Carolina: State Broadband Plan.” Here is the map:

Map courtesy of DIT

On Friday from 1-3 p.m. join “Quick Course Transition: FTF to Online” hosted by NC State Faculty, and the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. Take the survey on your learning needs and join the Zoom conference here. EdNC will post the recorded webinar when it becomes available. 

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released a fact sheet addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students.  

“Schools play an important role in disseminating information about and limiting the spread of the coronavirus. In addressing the possible risk of an outbreak of coronavirus in school districts and postsecondary schools, school officials must keep students safe and secure. In doing so, school officials should keep in mind federal civil rights requirements and respond appropriately to allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability,” the report says.

Read the fact sheet, which includes resources on responding to discrimination in schools and communicating about coronavirus here.  

Earlier this week, Screencastify, a screen recording software, hosted a webinar titled “When My School Closed: Best Practices from Educators in Schools Closed by Coronavirus” including lessons from teachers in China, Japan, and Washington State who share their experiences teaching remote thus far. A recording of the hour-long webinar can be accessed here also includes a 46-page document of resources for teachers. The hashtag #whenmyschoolsclosed has been used for curating daily best practices from teachers on Twitter.

Charter has announced they are offering free access to broadband and wi-fi for 60 days for K-12 and college student households who do not currently have a Spectrum subscription at a service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.

North Carolina Virtual Public School has announced several webinars for educators, focused on “sharing best practices for digitizing your content and supporting students in learning online.” There are three sessions scheduled on March 19 at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and two on March 20 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Updated on March 17, 4:00 p.m.

On March 16, Eric Davis, chair of the State Board of Education, issued a memo on personnel and school facilities to superintendents and charter school leaders, which provides some clarification on Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive order Directing the Statewide Closure of K-12 Public Schools. Superintendent Mark Johnson followed up with an email.

Peter Hans, president of the N.C. Community Colleges System Office announced his office recommends that all colleges “pause face-to-face instruction through the end of the month, consistent with Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order on March 14 that closed the public schools for students in North Carolina.” This includes online delivery in serving high school students in the Career and College Promise program, and that colleges should “wind down any remaining workforce classes that require face-to-face instruction.”

“Our priority is protecting the health of our students, faculty and staff,” Hans said. “We believe we can also help our students accomplish their educational goals through online instruction. Our colleges are resilient and accustomed to pivoting to meet emergent needs in their communities; this is no different.” You can read the full statement by the N.C. Community Colleges System Office here.

Updated on March 16, 4:00 p.m.

President Donald Trump announced new guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus, including avoiding groups of more than 10 people and avoiding discretionary travel for the next 15 days. Here are the guidelines.

Many districts are working to provide meals to students while schools are closed. No Kid Hungry NC is compiling a list of school meals availability for each district. 

The ACT rescheduled a test date from April 4 to June 13 across the United States “due to concerns over spreading COVID-19.” They released a FAQ page on their website with answers to questions such as what happens next for students who registered. More here.

The College Board, which runs the SAT exam, announced it is cancelling the May 2 testing day. In the coming days, the College Board will share additional information and details directly with registered students and test centers, according to their website.

Updated on March 15, 11:00 a.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a press conference on Saturday afternoon that all North Carolina schools will close for at least two weeks starting this Monday, March 16 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Cooper said he has appointed an education and nutrition working group to come up with solutions related to child care, meal service, and other equity issues and during the school closures teachers will continue to get paid.

Graham Wilson, director of communication and information services of the Department of Public Instruction, says about e-learning, “There are numerous resources available that can begin immediately.” Here is a webinar on resources and information for remote learning held on Friday, March 12. Read EdNC’s full coverage of Saturday’s executive order

On Sunday, the CDC released new guidelines recommending that all “mass gatherings” of 50 or more people be cancelled or postponed for the next eight weeks. 

North Carolina has 32 confirmed cases – 14 are in Wake County, four are in Mecklenburg County, two are in Johnson, Harnett, and Forsyth. Counties with one case are Durham, Chatham, Cabarrus, Onslow, Wayne, Brunswick, Craven, Wilson, and Watuaga. 

Updated on March 13, 8:30 a.m.

Multiple school districts have announced lengthened spring breaks, teacher workdays, or temporary closings to prepare for longer periods of not having classes for their students amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As of Friday morning, here are the schools and districts that have announced decisions. Click on the name to learn more. Have something to add? Email MWillson@EdNC.org.

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools: Teacher workdays on March 16, 17, and 18. No students are allowed in schools on these days as staff prepare for a prolonged period of extended learning. Spring Break is now March 19-27.
  • Orange County Schools: March 16, 17, and 18 will be teacher workdays. Staff will be working to prepare for a “potentially prolonged” period of extended learning. Spring break will remain in place as scheduled: March 30-April 3. During the weeks of March 16 – 20 and March 23 – 27, students will be learning from home. Teachers will be expected to hold “office hours” (i.e., virtually, via email, phone) from 9:00 a.m. – noon on March 16-18.
  • Durham County Public Schools: “Durham Public Schools has made the difficult decision to close for students due to the Covid-19 virus effective Monday, March 16.” They are releasing more details about options for distant learning, meals for children, and other concerns here.
  • North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics: Students will not return to campus after this upcoming extended weekend. No classes March 16-20. Courses resume March 23 via remote instruction.
  • Wake Technical Community College: Transitioning all on-campus courses to an online format and suspending on-campus activities.
  • UNC System: All UNC System schools will offer “alternative course delivery” indefinitely starting March 23. Some classes and labs will still meet in person. Large gatherings (100+) canceled. Campuses to remain open.
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College: Shifting classes to online instruction starting Monday, March 16.

Updated on March 12

Thursday morning, during Gov. Cooper’s Coronavirus Task Force, it was announced there are 1 confirmed and 14 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina: two people in Mecklenburg County, two people in Forsyth County, and one person in Johnston County — in addition to the seven cases in Wake County and one in Chatham County reported last week. Plus, a Durham County resident who tested positive, who is now outside of North Carolina, is included in the count. The News & Observer has put together a county heat map of the cases.

At the task force meeting, Cooper urged for statewide events with 100 or more people to be postponed, according to reporting by the WLOS.

“Schools, colleges and universities, and child care centers can take precautions now to help to protect students and children, faculty, and staff from the spread of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19,” he said.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announced that students will be learning from home March 30-April 3. And, Monday and Tuesday — March 16 and 17 — will now be optional teacher workdays “to help prepare instructors prepare for a period of online teaching.”

Durham Public Schools announced it was canceling student and employee out-of-state travel, plus in-state and overnight student field trips.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has suspended all athletic events starting Friday night. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) “suspended all athletic-related activities” until further notice, and within minutes, the Southeastern Conference announced that the remainder of their tournaments won’t be played. And, the NCAA announced it’s March Madness games will be played with “limited fan access.”

Updated on March 11

UNC Chapel Hill released a statement on Wednesday evening stating spring break is being extended through Sunday, March 22. When classes do resume on March 23, all classes will be remote until further notice. During this time, campus will remain open and operational.

“We recognize that some students will need to return to campus, so the campus will be open, including residence and dining halls, libraries and Campus Health,” chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said.

Later, at about 5:00 p.m., the entire UNC System announced it will be on remote classes after an extended spring break.

Additionally, at UNC-Chapel Hill, campus events for more than 50 attendees are canceled effective immediately as is university-affiliated travel outside the state of North Carolina. Within the state, university travel is permitted but it must be limited to gatherings of 50 or fewer people. More here.

According to reporting by the News & Observer, “two Raleigh private schools closed this week and another is reassuring families that things are safe after some parents were quarantined out of concern that they have COVID-19.”

Updated on March 10, 8:15 p.m.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools announced on Tuesday evening they are suspending all travel. “This means that district-sponsored trips of any kind for staff or students are suspended for now,” according to a statement from CMS.

It’s unclear how this will affect travel, with state championships coming up this weekend for basketball.

“We are awaiting guidance from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association about next steps. In addition, we will be talking early tomorrow morning with the other large districts in North Carolina about the best way to handle athletic and other competitions, and we’ll share any decisions with you as soon as they’re made.”

Duke University released an update stating they are suspending all in-person classes.

“First, all on-campus classes will be suspended until further notice, and we will transition to remote instruction (video and other forms of delivery) for all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools.  In order to provide time for students and faculty make this transition, Undergraduate Spring Break will be extended to Sunday, March 22 and classes will resume on Monday, March 23. Graduate and professional schools will notify their students about their specific schedules,” according to the university. See the full statement here.

Updated on March 10, 2:30 p.m.

At noon on Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency “to coordinate response and protective actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The state of emergency means government officials may have access to additional funding to help respond to the situation.

North Carolina’s State Health Director and the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, said, “officials have tested a total of 44 people as of 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, with another 45 people waiting to be tested at the state lab,” according to ABC 11 news.

Gov. Cooper is “not currently recommending preemptive school closures, but recognizes that school closures may be necessary in certain districts in the future,” according to the North Carolina Association of School Administrators.

According to reporting by the News & Observer, Wake County Public Schools is canceling all field trips in response to the state of emergency declaration, and according to the Chatham News + Record, “Chatham County Board of Education just voted to suspend all school-sponsored travel outside the state of North Carolina for the remainder of the school year.”

Updated on March 9 

Monday, WRAL reported that five Triangle-area residents with the company Biogen, which has offices in Research Triangle Park, have tested positive for coronavirus after they attended a conference in Boston last month where “a number of attendees later reported flu-like symptoms,” according to NBC Boston. All five North Carolina residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation in their Wake County homes, officials said.

On Tuesday, the Wake County school board will vote on giving Superintendent Cathy Moore authority “to take any lawful action and to temporarily waive Board policies as necessary in response to potential risks associated with the coronavirus.”

According to reporting by the News and Observer, “the authority was recommended by the board’s attorney and is being left deliberately vague to give Moore flexibility to respond” says Lisa Luten, a school district spokeswoman.  

The open session is scheduled for tomorrow for 05:30 p.m. at Crossroads I, Board Room, 5625 Dillard Drive Cary, NC 27518. 

Updated on March 6 

On Friday, the News and Observer reported there has been a second confirmed case of coronavirus in Chatham County. The patient traveled in an infected area in Italy in late February, where he began exhibiting symptoms before flying back to the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease control, he is in home isolation and is doing well. 

Because he was on a flight after showing symptoms, the CDC is identifying and contacting those who may have been exposed during traveling. 

Yesterday, Wake County School District posted an update about the outbreak on their website, which was also emailed to parents. They said they are closely monitoring the situation, that “health officials assure us that a member of the Wake County Public Health Division will notify someone if they are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).” 

They also included info about how they are sanitizing schools saying that every school has a cleaning plan in place to provide regular and routine cleaning throughout the school day, including high contact areas like doorknobs and classrooms. They have custodial staff on-site cleaning throughout the day. 


Updated on March 5 

UNC, Duke and NC State have all suspended study abroad programs in countries dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. UNC has also restricted university-related travel to all states which have been declared in a state of emergency, including California, Florida and Washington. For anyone who personally travels to go to these states or abroad, many are being asked to do a two-week self-quarantine off-campus. 

According to reporting by ABC 11, one student traveled back from Italy this week and is self-quarantining, following instructions by the university. She has no symptoms of illness. 

Hearing from you: Yesterday, one of our readers asked us “how long after one is exposed to COVID-19, do symptoms appear?” According to the CDC website, symptoms appear between “2-14 days after exposure.” 


Updated on March 4 

On Wednesday, Wake County Division of Public Health Director Chris Kippis gave a press conference and said the department does not recommend canceling events or festivals in Wake County.

“At this time, there is no reason for the public to panic,” he said. 

In one district, travel is being affected in some school districts as spring break approaches. Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools sent home a message to families saying they are cancelling all overseas school-sponsored trips and said they are “strongly recommending all international trips are postponed at this time.” 


Updated on March 3

On March 3, Gov. Roy Cooper gave an emergency management briefing at 3:30 p.m. after he announced there has been one presumptive positive COVID-19 case in North Carolina. The Wake County resident traveled back from the state of Washington and was exposed at a long-term care facility in the state. According to the governor, the person is doing well and is in isolation at home.

“We’ve been preparing for this. We do expect to see more cases in North Carolina,” Cooper said. “We’re providing resources to, and hosting regular calls with health care providers and partners.”

While this is the first case in North Carolina, employers and school districts around the country are reflecting on their processes and procedures in potential preparation.

Cooper also said that in North Carolina, parents should be discussing potential child care plans if schools do close, and employers should be encouraging people to not come into work if they are showing symptoms of any illness.

“We have a public health team in collaboration with emergency management and have put together an aggressive containment strategy,” Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said. She reminded the public that “more than 80% have mild symptoms and 20% have more severe symptoms.”

On March 2, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson sent out an email to educators, parents, and caretakers about the virus and preparation for schools:

Right now, we are asking everyone to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent the spread of any sickness. Below is guidance from the Center for Disease Control on preventing the spread of germs.

Your NC public schools are working closely with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Thank you for helping us to keep our students and families healthy.

Mary Willson

Mary Willson is the director of engagement at EducationNC.