Area schools to close four weeks as COVID-19 spreads


As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic spread last week nationwide, including in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds held several press conferences, with perhaps the most significant being Sunday, March 15, when she recommended that schools around the state close for four weeks in order to decrease the spreading of the virus.

Wilton, Durant and Bennett schools complied, shutting down immediately starting March 16. School will not restart until April 13. Joe Burnett, who serves as superintendent at both Wilton and Durant, said he met with administrative staff March 16, “trying to put together an operational plan to meet the needs of students and staff as best we can. If you would have told me a month ago we wouldn’t be having school for a month, I wouldn’t have believed it.’

Administrative offices within Wilton and Durant schools remain open. A meeting was held with school staffs March 17. There will also be no athletic practices, contests or extra-curricular activities held at the schools during the 4-week shutdown.

“We can only prepare for what we know today,” added Burnett. “We’re doing a deep clean of our facilities. I always tell people we’ll do two things: 1. Follow the guidelines of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor; 2. Use common sense for the well being of our students.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the Iowa Legislature is working on a bill to waive the time missed at K-12 due to the 4-week shutdown, hopefully allowing schools to still finish on time. She said it will include a waiver also giving her the authority to extend the period if needed.

Reynolds also announced March 16 that one more case of COVID-19 had been found in Dallas County. The state will soon be able to process 108 tests per day and it takes around 24 hours to get results. She said for now, stores in Iowa will remain open and stressed for shoppers to only buy weekly essentials “so that all Iowans can be served.”

She stressed all Iowans practicing social distancing during the shutdown of schools and some services. “It takes all of us to work together to protect your own health,” she said.

Cities taking precautions

City offices and services in the towns of Wilton and Durant are also reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wilton City Administrator Chris Ball submitted the following:

The community center is closed until further notice. City Hall will be closing to foot traffic. Cash payments should be made in the exact amount and put in an envelope to be set on the counter. Call city hall if you don’t have your bill stub. City services will continue as normal as possible. The library is still open, but they are limiting the number of people using the computers. (Editor's note: It was later noted that the library is now closed.)

The city of Wilton park bathrooms will not be opened until April 15. We will keep our Facebook page updated.

Durant City Clerk Deana Cavin said the following:

Most city facilities will operate as normal until further notice. The community center can be reached by phone; there are no office hours at this time. We do encourage people to use the drop boxes for paying bills at City Hall and Durant Municipal Electric. City park restrooms do not open until mid-April and council has decided to stick with that schedule. Parents need to plan accordingly.

Local extracurricular ball leagues will not be practicing until further notice. The city will continue to monitor not only supplies but recommendations, reports, and/or mandates. We recommend elderly and children are kept home and away from large gatherings.

The library is also closed as the Scott County Library System has closed all of its libraries through April 1.

Since the number of Iowa cases is expected to continue to rise, it is recommended Iowans take certain precautions, similar as with the flu.

* Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

* Cover your cough or sneeze.

* Stay home if you are sick or becoming sick.

If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms, call ahead to your doctor’s office to let them know.

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