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Schools to remain closed until April 14

Pike County public schools announced Friday that they will remain closed until Tuesday, April 14 – after spring break which was scheduled for April 6-10. Teachers will return to the classroom for a scheduled work day on Monday, April 13. The J. Joel Edwards Public Library has closed until further notice. Library materials are no longer incurring any late fees and the library manager is asking that they be held until it is announced that they may be returned. The drop box has been locked to prevent entrance of any suspected virus exposures. County manager Ron Alexander announced Thursday afternoon that county offices will be closed to the public starting Friday, March 20. The upcoming board of commission meeting was also cancelled. ”In office operations and services will proceed, and the office will remain fully staffed. However, all county business will need to be conducted by phone, email, or text type correspondences, as the doors will be secured to prevent physical public access into county buildings. Any and all document exchange needs will be done through the use of local mail carrier, or a drop box, Most of the county office currently have drop boxes in use, other office drop boxes will be placed in appropriate locations with respect to that county office,” said Alexander. “All offices will post notices at public entrances advising of the County’s decision and direction to please conduct county business accordingly. External operations such as Public Works and Building and Grounds, are not subject to excessive public contact, and will continue to function as normal. Those external operations personnel are advised to limit public interaction. Public Works will also have a drop box placed near the entrance in which to receive work orders requests, and permit requests. Board of Commission meetings (BOC); Additionally, the Pike County Board of Commissioners has canceled the upcoming Tuesday, March 31, 2020 BOC 6:30 pm meeting as well. Please note the County Clerk will be advising all of further BOC schedules. Pike County Courthouse functions and departments: The Pike County Courthouse, and all of the operations held in the courthouse offices, are governed and operated by the respective Constitutional Officers of those offices. As such those individual offices set their own operational guidelines. As such please contact the respective constitutional offices as to all courthouse related needs. Please know the Pike County Government understands these precautionary measures will be an inconvenience to the normal flow of county services. As such, normal access will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so. On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and Pike County Staff, I would like to thank all of the great citizens of this county for their understanding and cooperation during these troubling times. Be safe.” The Pike County tax commissioner’s office announced they will be closed to the public and walk-in customers from March 19-27. Office staff will continue to answer all phone calls, mail items, process online tag renewals and online payments. Call the office for more information at 770-567-2001. Pike County schools announced Tuesday morning that classes will not continue until after March 31. Students have been assigned grade-specific work which can be printed from home or picked up at each school. Pike County school teachers, administrators and staff came together to provide food for students with free and reduced price meals after schools were closed down until March 31 by governor Brian Kemp. Breakfast and lunches were packed for around 1,200 students and delivered by school bus drivers. ’The meals are available for families who are eligible for assistance through the federal school nutrition program. The meals are available by bus delivery and pick up at the elementary school on certain days,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan. ‘We are still working out the details. It’s not perfect but we are trying our best. We know that their are families that need more help than we are equipped to provide. If families are eligible and they have not received a call, please contact the transportation department.’ Both president Donald Trump and Georgia governor Brian Kemp have declared a state of emergency regarding the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The Presidential Primary scheduled for March 24 will now be held with the State Primary on Tuesday, May 19. The new strain of coronavirus has caused many large events – including St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – to be cancelled across the globe and is now impacting Pike County. Only one death has been reported from the illness in Georgia so far and that patient was a 67-year-old man who had underlying medical conditions. A total of 121 cases have been confirmed in Georgia so far in 23 different counties, including Fayette, Troup, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Bartow, Cherokee, Dougherty, Floyd, Gwinnett, Clarke, Clayton, Coweta, Gordon, Lee, Lowndes, Henry, Newton, Polk, Hall, Paulding, Charlton and Forsyth. Pike County public schools and the Zebulon campus of Georgia Military College were closed Friday, March 13 for cleaning and other preventative measures. Pike schools will remain closed for at least one week. ’In his press conference, Gov. Kemp granted local school districts the option to close schools if they felt it was in the best interest of their community. This is uncharted territory for all of us and we are making every effort to meet the needs of our students and their families while also being mindful of the health concerns for all involved,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan. We will thoroughly clean our schools and gather the information needed to make decisions about how we proceed moving forward. We understand that school closings create challenges for our families, but our first priority is the safety of our students and staff. We are grateful for your understanding and for your support.’ CrossPointe Christian Academy in Hollonville will be closed for two weeks. According to director Kim Rogers, students started remote/distance learning on Tuesday, March 17 for all age groups. ’We have been working on a plan for several weeks. We will be using a learning management system which will allow our older students the opportunity to view materials such as powerpoints, projects and information for their classrooms. Their teachers will be available online from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day to help with any questions and the students can take quizzes and tests and do other work online. Younger students were sent home with bags and they will send information they complete back to their teachers. We will also be sending things through the mail to students on a bi-weekly basis.’ ’For our upper elementary students, they will be completing work through our regular school information system. We will be working with all students as far as their mental health and keeping them happy and busy,’ said Rogers. Following the NBA, NHL and MLS’ decision to suspend all games effective immediately, sporting events in Pike will also be limited until the spread of COVID-19 slows, hopefully with warmer weather. Opening Day for softball and baseball was rescheduled to March 28 and Georgia Soccer suspended all soccer activities until April 30. ’The Pike County Parks and Recreation Authority board of directors has made the decision that the beginning of the 2020 baseball/softball season will be postponed until March 28 over concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The safety and well being of all our participants and their families is our first priority,’ said director Kevin Teate. ‘Our hope is to hold all of the Opening Day activities on March 28. All baseball and softball activities are suspended through March 22. At the earliest, activities will begin back on March 23. Coaches and parents will be contacted on when activities can begin again. This is an ever-changing situation and updates will be sent out as warranted. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through this situation.’  Pike Soccer enforced Georgia Soccer’s suspension of all activities until April 30. ’The suspension including practices, scrimmages, clinics, training, tournaments and games until April 30. Hopefully, the suspension will be lifted before then,’ said Pike Soccer president Don Bohensky. ‘We will do everything in our power to provide you all with the soccer experience that all the players deserve. We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you all back on the fields.’ Governor Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) recently announced that a daily status report page for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia has been set up. The page will replace nightly press releases from the Governor’s Office and DPH and update every evening at midnight to ensure accurate and regular information is provided to the public. The news site is at Local officials will continue to alert citizens of any changes due to the spread of the illness. Meanwhile, the Georgia General Assembly suspended the 2020 legislative session indefinitely. On March 12, both the House and Senate adopted the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, including $100 million in funding to address any Coronavirus-related needs which may arise. ’We do not take this action lightly, but after discussions with Governor Kemp, we feel this is a prudent measure which will ensure an orderly legislative session,’ said Speaker David Ralston. ‘I appreciate very much the cooperation of Lt. Governor Duncan, and working together, our House and Senate stand ready to support the state’s response to the Coronavirus. We look forward to resuming the legislative session and returning to the people’s business.’ Local citizens are encouraged to continue proper hygiene, including regularly washing hands and avoiding contact with those who are sick. ’The COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, as does our response. We must continue to be vigilant in our preventative measures as well. Wash hands frequently. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are sick. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash,’ said superintendent Dr. Duncan. ‘The situation remains very dynamic. We will continue to update you on information that may impact the district’s normal operations. Your child’s welfare remains, and will always be, our first priority.’ Other COVID-19 changes include: ’¢ The Mattress Fundraiser to benefit the Pirate Regiment Marching Band (originally set for March 21) has been postponed until May 9. ’¢ Gordon State College has suspended all classes until Monday, March 30 and all athletic events are postponed or cancelled through Sunday, March 29. ’¢ The Maxwell Quartet concert at the Griffin Auditorium on Tuesday, March 17. ’¢ Candidate’s Meet and Greet set for March 21 has been postponed by the Antioch AME Church Action Committee. ’¢ Pike County Chamber’s Business After Hours and Ribbon Cutting for Tuesday, March 24, will be rescheduled.

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