The Maine Department of Education is recommending that schools prepare to cancel in-person classes for the rest of the academic year, and continue online learning.
The department announced the recommendation in a letter to schools on Tuesday. Commissioner Pender Makin says it's based on CDC guidance, communication with other states and the trajectory of COVID-19 across the country.
Makin acknowledges that the closures will be difficult for students and families, and will likely affect major end-of-year school events. But she says schools will now have some time to plan.
"So it's about giving folks permission to sit with this new, hard reality," Makin says, "and to then be able to make informed decisions about how to move forward."
Makin says she's proud of how teachers have adapted during the pandemic, but is concerned about the thousands of students and families around the state who don't have internet access.
She says the department is working with other state agencies on a plan to negotiate deals that would help districts purchase mobile internet hotspots for students, "putting it in the hands of the districts who need these resources. Let them select from that menu of pre-negotiated, best possible deals. And then we're going to be able to reimburse districts for those purchase.
Gov. Janet Mills had previously ordered the closure of all schools through the end of April as part of her "stay-at-home" order.
Updated April 8, 2020 at 1:38 p.m. ET.