All schools, universities and kindergartens in Norway are being closed due to the coronavirus threat, Prime Minister Era Solberg announced Thursday. She told Norwegian media “we must be prepared that today we are coming up with the strongest and most radical measures we have had in peacetime in Norway.”
The announcement comes only hours after Longyearbyen School Headmaster Frode Westby Thorstad told Svalbardposten “we are not taking any major, major measures yet. The school is still open, but closing is certainly a scenario we must face. In that case, it will not be a decision we make on our own.”
Thorstad said an important reason why the school is not closed is the need to keep important social functions running.
“If we had only thought about public health, we would have closed the school,” he told the newspaper. “But closing the school will have social consequences for Longyearbyen. This is a trade-off we have had to take.”
The school and two kindergartens in Longyearbyen have a total enrollment of a few hundred youths. The closure will also affect the school in Barentsburg.
(This is breaking story in progress, with details being added.)