SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson announced Tuesday that Utah’s K-12 public schools will remain dismissed through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that, in order for us to slow the spread, and to get back on our feet socially and economically, this is not the time to have our schools back open,” said Herbert.

“In order to continue the slow of the spread of COVID-19, I believe — and we believe — that based on our view of the data we have today, and our best practices that we have in place, that we need to extend the soft closure of our public schools through the remainder of the school year. This is not an easy decision to make, we know it’s hard, it’s disruptive,” added Herbert.

Governor Herbert indicated the decision was difficult but through consultation with the COVID-19 task force, the Utah Department of Health and the Department of Education, they all feel this decision will allow Utah to further practice social distancing and continue to help stop the spread.

Meal services at K-12 public schools will continue on an as-needed basis.

Students with extra educational needs will be allowed to get help to ensure they are able to continue their education successfully and mentioned ideas such as summer classes as well as tutoring options, Dickson said.

Both Dickson and Herbert said they understand these are challenging times and they know there have been mistakes. They hope to be able to learn from them and grow through this “new normal” while working hard to make sure no one gets left out.

They did not mention how schools will be dealing with graduation ceremonies—although they said schools and even students will undoubtedly get creative in how they approach these end-of-the year events.

“While we know from our students, and our parents, that they are missing out on possible rituals that they’ve really been looking forward to at end of year, I support the governor making this decision based on the safety – not only of our students, but of our citizens,” said Dickson.

The COVID-19 Task Force, Utah Department of Health, and Governor Herbert will continue to monitor and assess the challenges, and respond accordingly in conjunction with Utah’s school officials.

More specific information on the extension of the soft school closure will be posted on the Utah State Board of Education webpage.