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Newton’s public schools will close Friday and remain shuttered for next week, and possibly longer, as an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, Superintendent David Fleishman said Thursday afternoon.

In a letter sent to families, Fleishman said that given the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the region, coupled with new guidance from the governor, the state, infectious disease experts, and local health partners, “we have made the difficult decision to close the Newton Public Schools beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13.”

"There will be no school tomorrow, next week and possibly for a longer period,” Fleishman said.

He said the decision to close schools is an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, and will only be effective if the community takes steps to practice self-isolation, monitor for any symptoms, and avoid large gatherings.

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“We need all community members to do their part or the school closure will not be successful in limiting the spread of the virus,” Fleishman said.

City schools will provide an update next week, he said.

The Newton Free Library will also be closed starting Friday, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a separate statement Thursday afternoon.

“Please stay tuned for updates about when we will re-open to the public,” she said in the statement.

Fleishman called the cancellation of school and associated activities “disappointing and extremely disruptive" to daily life, but “we believe we must do so for the health and well-being of our community.”

The decision comes a day after the school system canceled all field trips as well as evening and community events, and said the use of school buildings by non-school groups will be discontinued until further notice.

Newton leaders Wednesday also canceled or postponed all large discretionary gatherings hosted by the city, and announced the Senior Center would not be open for regularly scheduled programs.

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John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.