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Coronavirus: Leaders strive to help most vulnerable populations

By Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / March 19, 2020

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L-R: David Parrish, Greensboro City Manager; Deena Hayes-Greene, board chairperson of the Guilford County Schools; and Dr. Sharon Contreras, superintendent of the Guilford County Schools meet with other leaders during a press conference (Sunday, March 15) on the school system’s measures to keep students, staff and area residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, Guilford County Schools are closed. Photo by Joe Daniels/ Carolina Peacemaker.

School closings, amended business operating hours and restrictions on gatherings of 10 people or more are just a few of the precautions organizations and businesses have taken to protect people from the spread of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus.

As with any virus, it spreads through contact with infected persons and N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper enacted an executive order on Saturday, March 14 to stop all gatherings in the state of more than 100 people, including in schools. That number has been reduced down to 10 people by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The governor’s order subsequently closed all N.C. public schools for two weeks, starting on March 16.

Cooper issued another executive order on March 17 to close restaurants and bars for dine-in service, but still allows for takeout and delivery orders.

“Our lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic, but we’re going to get through this,” Cooper said. “Hindsight is 2020. I don’t want any regrets in our rear-view mirror when this pandemic subsides.”

COVID-19, has slowed down the City of Greensboro operations with changes to the trash and recycling schedules, reduced city facilities operation hours, and all city sponsored program and events have been canceled through April 15. City leaders urged people to stay home.

Cone Health is also offering drive-thru testing for coronavirus outside its emergency departments — but only for people with an order from a physician.

The Guilford County Division of Public Health announced its first confirmation of a positive COVID-19 case on March 17 and assured residents that the department is following all precaution guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

Dr. Iulia Vann, Guilford County Interim Public Health Director, stated, “Since we have this first confirmed case, we anticipate additional positive testing. The county is heavily monitoring this case and will continue to address future cases as they arise. It continues to be important for the community to follow the preventive measures outlined by the CDC and contact their primary care doctors if they are experiencing symptoms.”

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras and district leaders announced plans on Sunday, March 15 to implement distance learning strategies to keep students learning and to provide access to food during the mandatory break. All GCS employees will be paid during this period.

Parents were allowed to go by their child’s school from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. or from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 16 to pick up their child’s belongings. Schools also provided instructional materials and more information about how to access digital resources found on the GCS website.

GCS transportation services, nutrition services and community partners also instituted plans to ensure that children in need receive meals while school is not in session with Grab-and-Go sites. Grab-and-Go meals will be available at 32 sites throughout the county, open from 11 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. They will provide these meals to children ages 0-18 and will include lunch and breakfast. Students may pick up food from whichever site is most convenient.

GCS also began delivering meals to the county’s most vulnerable students, including those who are homeless or in transition. Delivery to those students will continue for at least the next two weeks.

“Although school is not in session, the need for nourishment persists,” said GCS Sup. Contreras. “We must do everything in our power to ensure no child goes hungry.”

School district leaders have also put two crisis hotlines in place to help students and families handle the stress school closures may cause. The first hotline is the GCS crisis hotline, intended to assist all GCS students with a crisis of any kind. The crisis hotline will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week by GCS counselors for at least the next two weeks.

The second hotline is the GCS multi-lingual informational hotline for all other questions regarding school closures and resources. There will be interpreters ready to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The interpreters will answer questions in Arabic, Swahili, French, Kinyarwanda, Rade, Vietnamese, Urdu and Spanish.


For more information on schools, visit www.gcsnc.com.

GCS crisis hotline: (336) 332-7295
GCS Multi-lingual informational hotline: (336) 332-7290

For State health information, visit: www.ncdhhs.gov




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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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