North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered the closing of all schools in North Carolina through March 30.

Cooper made the announcement Saturday afternoon. The closing is in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, which at present has affected more than 155,000 people worldwide, with more than 5,800 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

North Carolina has 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene said he, members of the district administrative team, members of Polk County Local Government and the Polk County Board of Education would begin meeting to determine next steps of action. Further information and guidance will be released as available.

“Know that we stand ready to meet the needs of our students, staff and community the best we can given the circumstances,” Greene said.

Cooper also issued an order to prevent any gatherings of 100 or more people.

“Across our state, we’re seeing a patchwork of schools beginning to let out their schools,” Cooper said. “We had parents, some parents, keeping their kids from school. We need a period of time here to assess the threat of COVID-19, and to make sure we have a coordinated statewide response to deal with the the fallout that comes when you don’t have children in school.

“When you think about the public health of children, if you have one school system that is out and another one that’s not, and then another one that lengthens spring break, then it’s hard to have a coordinated response to dealing with the fallout from not having school. We’ve consulted people in other states, we see that this period of time to figure out where we are is important. Hindsight is 2020 and I think we don’t want to be looking in the rearview mirror and regretting not doing this.

“I think it’s important for the safety, health and welfare of our state to do it. I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong decision here because there’s so much we don’t know, and I think if we’re going to err, we need to err on the side of caution. Take this two-week period of time, see where we are with the pandemic in our state and across the world, see what additional data comes to the forefront, put our plan in place where we’re going to help people who have childcare needs and help people who have trouble with kids getting nutrition, and we’re going to we’re going to concentrate on that.”