Coronavirus outbreak: The resiliency and spirit of Granite Staters is unmatched
Over the last few days, the COVID-19 outbreak in New Hampshire has rapidly evolved here in New Hampshire. On Friday, March 13 I declared a state of emergency – a proactive step that allows us to take preemptive measures to ensure that we have the resources and flexibility needed to respond to this developing health crisis in a moment’s notice.
Just this week I announced that all public schools in New Hampshire will transition to remote learning. This is not a decision we made lightly, but one that will help slow the potential spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire.
This direction will remain in place through April 3. Following that, we will reassess the situation on the ground. However, districts and families need to appreciate that we may remain in this situation for the long-term. Many school districts are able to transition immediately to remote learning, others will take this week to ramp up their efforts. Starting next week, kids across the Granite State will be learning from home.
For many people, and especially our kids, this can be scary time. There is much uncertainty in what is going on across the state, country, and world. The fact of the matter though is that our kids will remember more about how our communities and families react in the days to come than they will about the actual virus itself.
Education in New Hampshire will go on. New Hampshire has worked for many years to ensure that we are a leader in remote learning, and Commissioner Edelblut and his team are to be commended for their efforts that have put us in a strong position to take this action and to ensure that while students will not be in schools, they will still be learning.
As we move to remote learning, parents and families across the Granite State will undoubtedly need additional support. On Tuesday, I will announce details on how required to stay home to care for their children, and who are unable to work remotely, will be able to access unemployment benefits immediately.
When making this decision, we considered all factors – including access to school nutrition for those that are on free and reduced lunch. School districts are working with the Department of Education to make sure that no student will go hungry during this period.
For those who are unable to stay home, we have expanded access to childcare. In coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Fire Marshall, we have provided temporary flexibility in licensing to allow a business to provide temporary childcare for their employees. We have also slightly increased the allowed maximum enrollment for currently operating childcare facilities.
As students are away from their school facilities, we will be actively preparing for their return. Specifically, we will be setting aside funds to enable the cleaning of all temporarily vacant school facilities to ensure that children return to a safe environment.
There are few moments in one’s life that are truly as transformational, and important, as one’s education, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that children across the Granite State can still receive the education they deserve.
Our children are watching us. They will remember how we respond today. For them, our actions will serve as an example for a lifetime to come in terms of how to react and respond in an emergency situation.
The resiliency and spirit of Granite Staters is unmatched. We work together as neighbors and friends. And when we work together as a community, we do it really, really well.
This rapidly evolving health crisis will undoubtedly require sacrifice from each of us, but I know that it is in every one of us to act with strength for the benefit of our communities. To learn how your community will foster learning from home, we would encourage you to reach out to your school.
Chris Sununu, a Republican, is the governor of New Hampshire.