ATLANTA — Georgia's public schools will stay closed through April 24, according to an order from Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday.

The governor had originally ordered all schools closed on March 16 through the end of the month.

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According to a release by the governor's office, public school students will be able to return to class on April 27.

"I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students," Kemp said in a release"Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead."

The extension of school closures comes as Georgia's case count surpassed 1,500 on Thursday, with nearly 50 deaths. Kemp has called closing schools "critical" in reducing the transmission of the coronavirus.

He has so far resisted calls to completely shut down the state, opting to issue a statewide shelter-in-place for those considered most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The governor's order Thursday notes the public University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will still finish the semester through online learning.

It also provides for "limited exceptions" that include the continued operation of school meal availability.

See the full order

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We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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