Local officials adapt to virus emergency

County, town, school leaders describe changes; food banks, businesses share plans

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 3/19/20

Like most municipalities and counties in Colorado and many across the nation, Elbert County declared a local disaster emergency March 16, after three presumptive cases of COVID-19 were declared in …

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Local officials adapt to virus emergency

County, town, school leaders describe changes; food banks, businesses share plans

Posted

Like most municipalities and counties in Colorado and many across the nation, Elbert County declared a local disaster emergency March 16, after three presumptive cases of COVID-19 were declared in the county.

A teenage boy, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 30s were the first to be identified in the county. In an effort to keep residents safe and slow the spread of the virus, Elbert County officials are utilizing state and federal resources.

“This declaration allows Elbert County to tap into a broad array of state and federal resources to mitigate, respond and recover from potential effects of COVID-19,” said County Commissioner Chris Richardson in a press release. “Commissioners, elected officials and staff share a single focus — to reduce the opportunities to spread, and to safeguard our citizens and employees while still providing essential services.”

Here's what you need to know about county offices, schools and businesses over the next few weeks due to the emergency declaration.

Elbert County offices and facilities

As of March 23, county business is limited to phone, email, drop-off or drive-through — no walk-in traffic, to limit the potential for person-to-person transmission. However, county employees will still be working.

First responders and essential personnel, such as sheriff's deputies and Road and Bridge employees will continue to conduct their regular duties, incorporating practices to limit the possible spread of the virus as necessary. Other employees may be conducting their regular work remotely if possible.

For updated information, visit the county's website at www.elbertcounty-co.gov.

Town of Elizabeth

“The Town of Elizabeth declared an emergency declaration, following the emergency declarations issued by Elbert County and the State of Colorado,” said Mayor Megan Vasquez in a letter to residents. “Our hope is that the issuance of these declarations will allow us access to supplies and funding from the state and federal governments. Please rest assured that the Town and all local agencies are working together closely to coordinate planning and response efforts.”

The town has canceled all in-person meetings and will be holding electronic board of trustees meetings to handle urgent business. Business that is not urgent will be postponed until officials determine it is safe to hold in-person meetings again. Any electronic meetings that we have will be open to the public to listen and participate. Town Hall and the Elizabeth Police Department facilities are closed to the public until further notice.

For updated information visit https://townofelizabeth.org/community/page/coronaviruscovid-19-updates-and-resources.

Elizabeth School District

On March 24, all schools within the Elizabeth School District began remote/distance learning, and although their original time frame was for two weeks, Superintendent Douglas Bissonette said it will likely be longer. His prediction came true when Gov. Jared Polis ordered all schools in Colorado closed through April 17.

“We are striving to provide meaningful growth and progress for our students, although through a different method and in a different context,” said Bissonette. “Remote learning will be something new for some parents, students and teachers, and we're asking for patience from parents as we all work together to figure out the best way to help students at this time.”

In preparation for the shift to remote learning, teachers and district staff met and exchanged ideas, and each teacher was able to create a curriculum and learning methods for their specific classes and grades. Bissonette said students will not be expected to keep regular school day hours sitting in front of a computer all day.

“We're going to have families in three categories of situations,” said Bissonette. “First is those with high-speed internet and devices, they can engage in online learning. Second are those who don't have good internet access but that we can support in getting access. If they have good cell access we can support them. Third are families who don't have good cell service, we're going to have to use old-fashioned paper resources.”

Schools in the district remain open, and teachers are able to work from their classrooms if they are so inclined. Parents can pick up assignments and access resources at schools for now.

Food banks

The Elizabeth Food Bank, located at 381 S. Banner St., is offering drive-through-only service for anyone who lacks the resources to feed their family. Visitors should go to the back door of the facility and volunteers will be there to help you. The Food Bank is open Fridays from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and Saturday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to donate food may do so during those hours, or call 303-646-4825 to arrange a time for a delivery. Financial contributions are helpful as well.

The Food Bank of Kiowa Creek Community Church also welcomes anyone who is experiencing food insecurity. They are located at 231 Cheyenne St. in Kiowa and their hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Local businesses

All businesses are under state restrictions, with restaurants offering take-out services and deliveries. For an updated list of Elizabeth businesses and their services while under restrictions, visit https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQnu6ZIpZ4uY_Aixq23Eg3YQztIATu1-FP_WZwEvQ5BSMYGYQcRw9sOv3i5FWqkY5nJSQWYF4GBziT6/pubhtml.

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