Richland County school officials were scrambling Thursday afternoon after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced all K-12 schools will close for three weeks, effective at the end of the school day on Monday.
His order affects all schools -- public, private and charter.
The mandate came during a press conference during which he said there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 333 cases under investigation.
"We know this will impact families," the governor tweeted. "We understand the sacrifice this will entail, but this is the right thing to do. Frankly, I have no idea if it will extend beyond that point.
"We all have to have the attitude this is a crisis and we have to get the job done. We're going to do the best we can. We knew this day would come. We're there," the governor said.
Richland Source attempted to contact all county districts and schools after the announcement.
Madison Local Schools Supt. John Thomas said Thursday's announcement came as a surprise.
"This incursion of three weeks was not in our plan," he said. "This was unexpected."
Thomas said he thought the announcement would be made Friday, after he and his administrators had a scheduled meeting to discuss options.
"We had a plan for teachers to, like the colleges, teach online. But we had to figure out the students who needed computers in order to do that.
"I need to have an idea of what we are facing," the superintendent said.
While students are on break, Thomas said he worries what working parents will do with their children.
"They may be out of luck," he said. "I don't know what they'll do. This will be an issue for them."
Plymouth-Shiloh Local Schools Supt. Brad Turson said the district is currently working on plans.
"We've had some discussions and we have some preliminary plans," he said. "I don't want to jump the gun here."
Turson referred the public to the district website for further updates. Updates will also go directly to parents through the blackboard communication system, he said.
Shelby City Schools Supt. Tim Tarvin said the district will use its regularly scheduled in-service Friday to continue planning for the three-week hiatus.
He said the district had been expecting it.
"We spent a lot of time this week getting our teachers ready for this, we felt the likelihood would happen," he said.
Teachers will offer online instruction and take-home materials for students.
"Our intention is to provide instruction for the full three weeks that kids are not in the brick and mortar building," he said. "We're going to make sure that we're taking attendance (online), grades are going to be recorded."
"Our hope is to deliver instruction online to our kids who are 4th grade through 12th grade," he continued. "Then the younger students, there'd be hard copies primarily, but there may be some online in there."
Parents will be able to pick up the educational materials students need to study at home sometime next week. The school's food service director is currently working on a plan to deliver school lunches to children on the free and reduced lunch list.
"We're going to put the proper mechanisms in place and find a way to get kids meals."
For more information on the district's plans, parents can visit the updates page on the school district's website.
Clear Fork Valley Local Schools Supt. Janice Wyckoff released a letter on March 11 outlining the district's plan if schools were to close. Schools will be closed to students and parents starting Monday morning, but teachers will report Monday through Wednesday for planning.
Parents will be allowed to pick up student learning devices from their child's school building next Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This is the first time we have ever done anything like this, we want to spend the first three days making sure that we've got things right," she said.
"We're going to make sure the first three days are spent planning and working with families and after that we will be up and running. We'll be delivering free and reduced lunches with a drop and go method and we'll be doing distance learning."
Every teacher will deliver online learning in some form. Attendance will taken online and grades will continue to be handed out.
Wyckoff said that additional updates to the public would be released on the district website.
Foundation Academy Principal Mitzi Kimani said school officials were working on plans.
"At this point, we are still gathering info from our board members and our management team and we will be having some information coming shortly," Kimani said.
Kimani said that more information should be released within 24 hours on the district website and Facebook page.
During his press conference today, DeWine was asked what message he had for parents who will be scrambling for daycare next week.
"The message is we understand as much as we can. We have compassion for that. But we have a responsibility to save lives. This is the time to do it," the governor said.
Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero said the county is considering that issue, as well as others.
"We are aware of the announcement, and will discuss this topic (as well as others) during tomorrow morning’s special meeting. The situation evolves by the minute, and we continue to monitor it closely," Vero said.
St. Peter's Catholic School
St. Peter's will have school Monday, March 16 to allow teachers to communicate plans for remote learning with students, said the administration team at the Catholic school.
"For grades seven through 12, we will follow the schedule for an eight-period day," said Jon Cuttitta, the high school principal. "School will remain canceled Friday, March 13 to allow teachers to make preparations.
All extracurricular activities will be canceled beginning at 3 p.m. on Monday. This will include athletic practices.
This remains a developing story.