The latest involving COVID-19

  • Blue Ridge School and Early College will remain closed until at least March 30 as schools across the U.S. shut their doors in dealing with COVID-19, the Coronavirus.
    Blue Ridge School and Early College will remain closed until at least March 30 as schools across the U.S. shut their doors in dealing with COVID-19, the Coronavirus.
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It happened in North Carolina over the weekend. 
Following the lead of other Southern states, N.C. Governor Roy Cooper announced the closing of schools. Cooper made some executive orders on Saturday. The governor has ordered all K-12 schools to close for at least two weeks. Additionally, he has ordered all mass gatherings of more than 50 people to be canceled.
“This is a risk we cannot tolerate,” Cooper said after noting some venues continued to hold large events even after his recommendation earlier in the week to limit large gathering over 100 people. “No concert is worth the spread of this pandemic. The people of our state are taking this seriously, and we need concert promoters and event organizers to do the same.”
Blue Ridge school had been on spring break last week, along with other Jackson County Schools. For students, spring break has been extended for an additional two weeks. 
JCPS Superintendent Kim Elliott said Jackson County Public Schools will remain closed from Monday through March 30. 
“By agreement with the NC Governor, State Superintendent, Local Superintendent, Local Board of Education and the Local Health Director, JCPS is closed for students,” Elliott said via email on Sunday morning. “The announcement by the Governor allows us to access state and federal funds. This closure was a coordinated effort. The timing was determined at the state level.
Elliott confirmed other reports there were no recorded cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County at this time.
“This is a precautionary measure,” she said. “We hope to limit cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County. Employees who did not travel over break may report to work. We will be conducting temperature checks for employees. Any employee who traveled over break is to self-isolate for 10 school days. Our employees have been provided directions about how to access this special leave.”
Elliott added additional information about instruction at home, and food service will follow.  
“We are hoping to open our summer feeding sites for drive up service on Wednesday,” she said. “I am hopeful with the week of spring break last week and the next two weeks we will have no COVID-19 In JCPS.”  
Elliott encouraged families to remain in Jackson County and to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.
“These are unprecedented times and JCPS is here to support our families with information, academic support, and school nutrition services,” Elliott said.
Jackson County remains on alert as the threat of COVID-19 heightens. 
The Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Department, along with the Jackson County Health Department has been spearheading the county’s policy when it comes to handling the spread of the highly contagious virus. 

The latest
The latest delays, postponements or cancellations in Jackson County, as of Monday, March 16:
• All Jackson County schools are closed.
Mark Jewell, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said he believed Governor Cooper’s Executive Order requiring the temporary closure of North Carolina K-12 public schools to slow COVID-19 transmission was the right call.
“We appreciate Governor Cooper’s careful consideration of all the impacts a statewide closure of our public school system would have on educators, students, parents, and the wider community,” Jewell said in a Saturday email statement. “Ultimately, we think this is the correct decision, and we thank him for acting decisively in the best interest of everyone involved.”
NCAE is the state’s largest education advocacy organization for public school employees and represents active, student, and retired members.
• Western Carolina University will be extending its official spring break by an additional week, until Monday, March 23. Classes will then be transitioned from face-to-face to alternative methods beginning March 23 and will continue until further notice. 
• WNC’s Chancellor Installation and weeklong events have been postponed until fall.
• Southwestern Community College said online classes will continue as scheduled with spring break for seat-based classes being extended until March 22. 
• All Fontana Libraries will close until further notice. As of Monday, all Fontana Regional Library locations in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17 through March 31, although phone calls will be answered.
In evaluating information that indicates that aggressive early social distancing can stop COVID-19 from exponentially spreading, library leadership is making this difficult decision. Currently we plan to reopen on April 1,” said Albert Carlton Library Librarian Serenity Richards, “But we will be continually assessing the situation to determine if this date will be extended.”
This decision is consistent with Governor Cooper’s call for all public schools to close. The scientific data show that early, aggressive social distancing is vital in slowing the virus’s spread. By not delaying the decision to close, the benefits of social distancing will be maximized.
Overdue fines for materials due during this time will be waived. Additionally, eBooks and eAudiobooks remain available, and streaming video via Kanopy and NCLive is also available at www.fontanalib.org. Wi-Fi also extends around the perimeter of library buildings and can generally be picked up from sections of the parking lots.
The library website and Facebook page feature information links to COVID-19 resources and detailed instructions on how to access electronic resources.
To further serve the public during the time that we are closed, we plan to offer curbside pickup of materials that have been placed on hold. For more information and details, please call the Albert Carlton – Cashiers Community Library at 828-743-0215. 
More to come
Cashiers Glenville Fire Department Chief Randy Dillard has been paying attention to the news regarding the rampant spread of COVID-19 and its impact on Cashiers and Southern Jackson County. 
“We’ve been keeping an eye on everything in the news and have stepped up the cleaning in the station,” Dillard said. “We’ve upped our cleaning, keeping the building clean. We clean the station down twice a day now instead of once a day.”
Dillard called the continuing news worrisome and is afraid more is still to come.
“This is just getting started and it’s worrisome to me,” he said. “We should be taking this thing seriously.”
NC restaurants prepare to close
N.C. Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday he plans to order restaurants and bars closed except for takeout and delivery orders. 
The move aims to lessen the spread of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — by limiting interactions between large groups of people. A number of other states have issued similar orders, including New York, Ohio and Florida.
Cooper said his executive order would be effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday and would also include an expansion of unemployment insurance.
Nick Breedlove, Director of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority developed a COVID-19 information packet for the county’s key partners, to include restaurants, accommodations, businesses and stakeholders as it relates to the hospitality industry in Jackson County. 
“It may be helpful to share these with your audiences as even the general public may find value in this advice and you certainly capture an audience we do not in our email list,” Breedlove said in a media email release on Thursday. “Lacking a restaurant association and best tips for smaller accommodations, we took the lead in providing information for them as to best practices.”
Breedlove said his department is in daily contact with the Jackson County Department of Public Health, Jackson County Emergency Management, and others to continue to keep the public updated on developments.
“We have not activated any visitor-facing messaging at this point,” he said. “Our JCTDA Crisis Management Plan, which contains public health crises, will guide our Crisis Management Team as needed when needed. As this situation evolves, check with event organizers directly on events that may be impacted or postponed.” 
The JCTDA also maintains regular contact with the State Tourism Office and on weekly calls with Destinations International and the U.S. Travel Association to stay informed on the latest updates as it relates to travel.