It’s the kind of “spring break” no one saw coming when the 2020-21 calendar came out last year.

Due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the Stoughton Area School District has canceled all classes and activities from Monday, March 16 through at least Friday, April 3, with plans to use virtual learning to meet students’ educational needs in the meantime.

Gov. Tony Evers announced the closings of all schools in the state in a Friday, March 13, news release.

The anticipated reopening date is Monday, April 6, however, that is subject to change, pending further information.

While Evers mandated that schools close as of March 18, on Sunday, March 15, Dane County made it an immediate closure.

The district first discussed COVID-19 with families on March 5, the day the second person tested positive for the disease in the state. In that letter, the district urged good hygiene, keeping sick children home from school and avoiding close contact with people who might be sick.

One week later, the district announced it would be working on creating virtual learning for elementary school students, just in case it would be needed.

The next day, the potential for virtual learning became a reality with Evers’ statewide order.

On the morning of Monday, March 16, SASD school board, policy committee and finance committee meetings for that evening were canceled. Staff were scheduled to come in for professional development on Tuesday and Wednesday, with plans to begin virtual learning on Thursday, March 19.

Virtual learning will cease during Spring Break, which will still take place at its previously scheduled dates from March 23-27. Virtual learning will resume March 30 until at least April 3.

Grab and go lunches will also be available for district children 18 and under during the school closures, and the district is providing technology assistance to students in need to use the new virtual learning system.

Students and families were able to pick up their personal items and medications earlier this week, but were required to honor Dane Country’s social distancing guidelines of being six feet away from one another.

In the news release, Evers said state officials did not take the decision lightly, but are using every tool they have to protect people.

“We are all in this together to protect Wisconsin and the most vulnerable among us,” he said. “We understand everyone will be impacted by this and have their lives disrupted, but we need to do this to protect our families and Wisconsin from this outbreak.”

Evers said the mandated closure was initially planned for Wednesday, March 18, to give school districts time to make plans for families, students and staff, but the rapidly changing events led to the decision for immediate closure.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.