This photo, taken Friday, shows Cony High School and its and empty parking lot in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — All Augusta schools will be closed until April 27 to decrease the impact of the coronavirus, per an email sent to parents Friday morning from Superintendent James Anastasio.

“Good Morning — on Sunday evening, March 15th, Governor Mills declared a civil emergency for Maine which extends for 30 days. During the civil emergency, Maine schools cannot provide classroom-based instruction,” the email reads. “As a result, the Augusta School Department and all Augusta schools are closed until April 27th to increase social distancing and decrease the potential impact of COVID-19 on all of you and the greater Augusta community.”

This news, along with news from numerous central Maine school districts, came in Friday, as the number of coronavirus cases in Maine rose to 56.

The Augusta district lists eight member schools on its website: Capital Area Technical Center, Cony Middle School, Cony High School, Farrington Elementary School, Sylvio Gilbert Elementary School, Lillian P. Hussey Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School and Augusta Adult Education.

Officials at the Augusta Schools office were not available for comment.

Kelli Deveaux, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Education, said Commissioner Pender Makin does not have the authority to close schools and is not actively seeking out notification of any extension of closure. Anecdotally, she said many of the schools are reacting to updates posted on the department’s website.

The latest update, posted March 19, acknowledges the “huge challenge for districts” to create long- and short-term plans based on “uncertain guidance from (Center for Disease Control) and from (the Department of Education.)”

“For now, we can still only say that the national CDC recommends that classroom-based instruction (groups of 10 or more people in one indoor space) be avoided for a possible 8-20 week duration once there is “community transmission,” the update reads.

The Gardiner-area school district (MSAD 11) extended its closure to April 24, according to a letter sent to parents from Superintendent Patricia Hopkins.

Hopkins said 10 days worth of classwork plans were handed out Wednesday and administrators will meet Monday to discuss remote classwork. Students who did not get their work may go to the school Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and get it, and students from grades 6-12 may pick up laptops during that time.

Farmington-area Mt. Blue Regional School District superintendent Tina Meserve said their schools would be closed until April 27 as well. A letter to parents said “staff will continue to provide remote learning activities for students as well as breakfast and lunches as previously outlined.”

Maranacook Area Schools superintendent’s office announced Friday that schools will be closed through April 26. Food service is also being provided at two locations: At Mount Vernon Elementary School, ​Monday and Wednesday, between 7 and 9 a.m., and at Maranacook Community Middle and High Schools, where food pantry pick up will be offered Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m.

All Belgrade-area (RSU 18), Bingham-area (SAD 13), Forest Hills Consolidated School (RSU 82/MSAD 12), Hallowell-area (RSU 2), Newport-area (RSU 19), North Anson-area (RSU 74) and Pittsfield-area (SAD 53 and Maine Central Institute) schools will remain closed until April 27.

Erskine Academy Headmaster Michael McQuarrie said “staff and administrators will meet daily, likely virtually, to assess our plan, which is currently to close until March 27.” He said “all changes and developments will be communicated to our public in a timely and thorough manner.”

Sheepscot Valley school district (RSU 12) Superintendent Howard Tuttle said Friday that he and the schoolboard “have not made a decision yet” on school closures, “but one should be coming in the next day or so.”

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