Governor Roy Cooper announced North Carolina schools will stay closed until May 15.

Cooper signed an executive order mandating six more weeks of school closures Monday. He also ordered the closure of additional businesses where social distancing is challenging, including gyms and hair and nail salons. 

Those businesses have been ordered to close by this Wednesday, but are encouraged to close sooner if possible.

The order falls short of a shelter-in-place mandate, as is already in effect in New York and California, among a growing list of other states, but Cooper said officials are “preparing for every scenario,”

“Right now we’re not issuing a stay-at-home order but the situation is constantly evolving,” Cooper said. 

As of Monday, over 300 North Carolina residents have tested positive for the highly-contagious virus out of over 360,000 cases worldwide. The virus has about a 2 percent mortality rate, with those over the age of 65 and with underlying conditions at the greatest risk. 

The closure of the state’s bars and restaurants last week led to a massive spike in layoffs. Last week, the state received over 100,000 applications for unemployment benefits, Cooper said. 

Superintendent Mark Johnson said the school system is working to implement remote learning so students can make the most out of the rest of the school year and ensure those set to graduate this May can still do so. 

The school system has also set up over 1,100 sites to give out free school lunches to students and has supplied over 1.2 million meals, according to Cooper. 

Johnson encouraged parents to help foster remote learning by engaging with their kids. 

“If you haven’t already now is the time to start a routine with your child,” Johnson said. “You cannot treat this as along break.” 

Although social distancing is “virtually impossible” at daycare centers, they will remain open with updated health and safety guidelines, Department of Public Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said. 

“We want to have quality childcare so those on the front lines know that their children are being well cared for as we care of others,” Cohen said. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at 

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