Schools closing beginning after Monday and no ‘mass gatherings’; voting will go on as scheduled Tuesday

Murphy Theatre, others postpone local events

By Tom Barr & - Gary Huffenberger - News Journal

COLUMBUS — “We are in a crisis, so we have to treat it like one,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine late Thursday afternoon. “We’re all in this together.”

DeWine announced Thursday that, after consulting with experts, “children in the state will have an extended spring break of 3 weeks” beginning after school on Monday — “all K-12 schools: public, private, charter.”

He added, “We will review this afterwards.”

DeWine also announced that the state is banning mass gatherings of 100-plus people in Ohio; this does not include “typical office environments, schools, restaurants, factories, or retail or grocery stores where large groups of people are present but it is unusual for them to be within an arm’s length of one another.”

He said that, on Thursday, Ohio has a new confirmed case of COVID-19, “bringing our number of confirmed cases to 5. We expect the cases to continue to grow as the virus spreads and the number of tests performed increases.”

Ohio Health Director Amy Acton said Thursday “I know it is hard to understand COVID-19 since we can’t see it, but we know that 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus today — that’s over 100,000 people.”

DeWine said that, “Although we severely limited visitors to nursing homes/assisted living facilities, we have heard from the nursing home industry asking us for a stricter order restricting all outside visitors. We are working on updating our order to reflect this change.

DeWine also said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost will be on the lookout for price gouging and that the AG is “prepared to take action on this unconscionable practice.”

Regarding Ohio voters going to the polls on Tuesday for the primary election, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted assured citizens that, “Voting does not meet the definition of a mass gathering. Election day will go as planned.”

Local effects

A shortage of bus drivers led to Wilmington City Schools (WCS) closing on Thursday with the district announcing via social media: “The transportation supervisor and district administrators have exhausted all options to be able to transport our Elementary and Secondary students without long delays in pick up and drop off. We hope to be able to resume normal school schedule on Friday.”

The high school’s spring musical “Singin’ in the Rain” originally set for this weekend has also been affected.

Theatre Director Ken Lydy announced late Wednesday evening: “We have been notified by the Wilmington City Schools Administration about the Governor’s strong recommendations about no mass gatherings. He also alluded to some harsher measures in regard to ‘orders’ about mass gatherings. The science behind this is called ‘Social Distancing’ and is a tool to reduce and slow the spread. The goal is to prevent overwhelming our infrastructure, as we have seen happen in other parts of the world.

“WHS Theatre Performances scheduled will be restricted to one performance. This special performance will only be held on March 12 (Thursday). It is limited to only two tickets for the cast and crew to invite close family or friends. Only those with the special ticket will be permitted to attend this special performance. All other performances will be cancelled. These guests may only attend if they are in good health.”

The Clinton-Massie website has the following “Alerts”, posted Wednesday, at the top of its home page:

“In an effort to be proactive, Clinton-Massie Local Schools is asking that by the end of the day on Thursday, March 12th, students take home all books, materials, and supplies required for learning. Please consider sending an extra bag to school to help your student transport these materials home with them. The district is assessing and revising its plans on a daily basis as this situation rapidly changes. Just to reiterate, at this time, no school closure is imminent after Spring Break. This is a proactive and preparatory step only.”

A Clinton-Massie Instagram posted Tuesday stated the following:

“It is best for our students that the adults provide them with support, normal routines, and keep them engaged in their learning and extra-curricular activities. To support this mentality, until further notice, we are proceeding with all activities as scheduled unless canceled by the hosting entity.”

At East Clinton Schools, Supt. Eric Magee said Thursday that no new, non-essential field trips will be scheduled. Any currently scheduled field trips will be evaluated individually to determine whether they are necessary or not.

East Clinton officials were working Thursday on a statement for parents and guardians that will be released either later in the day or on Friday.

The statement will include some plans on how to proceed. Officials, said Magee, are looking at activities and gatherings, and determining whether they need to be held, and if so, aim to have them held in a safe manner.

EC also is following the leadership and direction of the local health department, he said.

Parents and guardians can look to East Clinton’s website and social media as more details firm up.

The high school has already staged its spring play, remarked Magee.

Also, “City of Wilmington Parks will be following the Governor’s lead and suspend all park youth leagues practices and games for the next three weeks,” announced Parks & Rec Supervisor Jermaine Isaacs. “We will reevaluate and assess as more information becomes available throughout the next three weeks.”
Murphy Theatre, others postpone local events

By Tom Barr &

Gary Huffenberger

News Journal