Defense Department schools at Fort Knox, Kentucky, will be closed to students starting Monday, March 16, as a preventive measure in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus, officials announced today.

Fort Knox is the first installation in the U.S. to close its DoD-operated schools because of coronavirus concerns. In addition to overseas schools, the Department of Defense Education Activity operates schools at 15 military installations in seven states, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Overseas, 20 DoD schools in South Korea, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Bahrain are closed to students.

There are no known cases of coronavirus in DoDEA schools.

Teachers at Fort Knox will start sending online learning assignments on Thursday, March 19. Students are expected to complete these assignments; principals and teachers will send additional information about this process by Tuesday. Staff will report to the schools to begin online training. DoDEA has also long had a virtual school component.

At Fort Knox, DoDEA operates four elementary schools, one intermediate school and one middle high school.

At this time, Fort Knox schools are not expected to reopen until April 6. The week prior, from March 30 to April 3, is spring break for students and teachers.

All extracurricular activities are canceled or postponed starting Saturday. That includes any outside groups that meet at their schools.

A number of public school districts around the country have closed schools. Many DoDEA Americas schools are coming up on spring break at various times over the next few weeks. For example, schools at Quantico Marine Corps Base will begin their spring break the week of March 16.

The decision about closing Department of Defense Education Activity schools resides ultimately with the installation commander or senior mission commander, said DoDEA spokesman Will Griffin. But DoDEA officials provide information and recommendations based on their assessments, working closely with local commands both stateside and overseas, he said.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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