HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Pennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic under a new state order.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s education secretary signed the closure order Thursday.

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The decision affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools.

“Kind of really sucks after sitting at home all this time, start missing it a lot,” North Hills senior Benjamin Hannon told KDKA’s Paul Martino.

It means children will spend the rest of the academic year learning remotely. Gov. Wolf had previously closed schools indefinitely.

For Ben, it means missing some once in a lifetime moments: “I was really looking forward to prom with my girlfriend. For graduation, my mom and I worked hard to get through high school.”

He may have gotten some uplifting news Thursday when his superintendent put an emotional promise on the web, promising some sort of ceremony.

For Ben’s mom, who also has twin sixth graders, online classes are a big challenge.

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“Trying to do their school work online is stressful,” she said. “My sixth graders are struggling, but I do have to give credit to our teachers.”

And it’s an even bigger challenge for superintendents like James Harris in Woodland Hills, who has to raise money to purchase hundreds of laptops for underprivileged students.

“It’s been amazing the responses,” he said. “As of standing here right now, we’re at over $120,000 donated. And we’re still counting.”

In a press release, Gov. Wolf said: “We must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus during this national crisis. This was not an easy decision but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families.”

Pennsylvania has seen more than 16,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 310 deaths.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

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