Events end, aid begins due to virus

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Shutdowns, school closures and restricted public access have occurred across Nassau County amid COVID-19 concerns.  Public schools in Nassau County closed Friday for spring break. Schools will be closed for an additional week and reopen April 15. All school-related activities, including...

  • Callahan resident Jenny Peale receives non-perishable food items from Callahan First Baptist Church volunteers Connie Krug and Peggy Hyatt Tuesday morning. Food will be distributed 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through March 20 while supplies last.
    Callahan resident Jenny Peale receives non-perishable food items from Callahan First Baptist Church volunteers Connie Krug and Peggy Hyatt Tuesday morning. Food will be distributed 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through March 20 while supplies last.
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Shutdowns, school closures and restricted public access have occurred across Nassau County amid COVID-19 concerns. 

Public schools in Nassau County closed Friday for spring break. Schools will be closed for an additional week and reopen April 15. All school-related activities, including scheduled sporting events are also canceled through April 15. The district will provide updates as to whether any missed games will be rescheduled. 

“As things slowly develop, we will be looking at guidance from the state level,” Nassau County Schools Asst. Superintendent of Instruction Mark Durham said, adding that the district awaits word from the Florida Department of Education as to whether students will be required to make up the extra week. School closures could be extended if the virus is still a concern. The school district plans to have online instruction available for students as early as Monday. Those details still need to be worked out, since some students do not have internet access, according to Durham. 

As of Monday there were no reported COVID-19 cases affecting students, teachers, employees or administrators, Durham said. 

Starting next week, breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup at Callahan Elementary, Hilliard Middle-Senior High, Yulee Middle and Southside Elementary. Although drive-up is preferred, parents or guardians may also walk onto these campuses and collect prepackaged breakfast and lunch at the same time. Meals will be distributed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to waiting vehicles. Meals are available for infants and children up to 18 years old. Children must be inside the vehicle to ensure that the proper number of meals per child is received. 

To stay informed about the school district’s updates concerning the virus, visit https://www.nassau.k12.fl.us/Page/3186.

Also, the ACT scheduled for April 4 is canceled. Emails will be sent to students updating them on the new free national testing date. 

The SAT scheduled for May 2 was also canceled along with makeup exams already scheduled for Saturday. Registered students will receive refunds, according to a press release from the College Board. Additional SAT testing opportunities will be provided as soon as possible in place of canceled administrations. 

 

More Closures 

 

The Nassau County Public Library system is closed to the public through April 6, County Manager Mike Mullin said Monday. 

The county’s recreational fields are closed and sporting activities such as Little League and soccer are suspended. All First Coast YMCA branches have closed until further notice. 

All Nassau County 4-H activities are canceled through April 30. 

The Florida Supreme Court System has suspended all state activities related to jury selection, pre-trial hearings, trials and courtroom activities through March 27 or longer if necessary. 

The Nassau County Commission will hold its regularly scheduled meetings today and Monday night. Public hearings on the items presented at those meetings will be rescheduled for April 27. 

All other county boards and committees will attend the latest scheduled meeting in April. Non-essential meetings are canceled. 

Nassau County Animal Services has suspended all owner surrenders until further notice. This will help keep the population at the facility lower, according to Mullin. Adoption events are canceled. Animal services employees will still respond to emergency calls. 

Nassau County Fire Rescue personnel will assist ill residents at the door of all fire stations, but the public will not be permitted inside the buildings through April 6. 

 

Food Service 

 

Junior’s Seafood Restaurant and Grill in Callahan posted a letter on its door to let senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems know that their employees will make grocery runs for them this week. 

Restaurant employees will also call residents to check in on them. Families that may have issues feeding their children meals while schools are on break can contact the restaurant for assistance. Call 628-0755.

Woofy Wagon in St. George, Ga. offers free breakfast and lunch for all school-aged children Tuesday through Friday as long as schools are closed. Children must be present. Available breakfast items are grits, grilled cheese or egg sandwiches. Lunch items are peanut butter and jelly, ham, grilled cheese sandwiches or hot dogs. 

As a safety precaution, buffet items at Callahan Country Kitchen are suspended. Restaurant servers will distribute food from the kitchen. Breakfast is available until 11:30 a.m. Other meals can be made to order. 

Prepackaged meals are available for pickup at Callahan First Baptist Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday. If unable to pick up, call 879-2172 for delivery. 

The weekly community dinner held Wednesday evenings at the Multipurpose Building adjacent to the Northeast Florida Fairgrounds has moved to Anchor Church of God, 541798 U.S. 1, Callahan. Only takeout dinners will be served, along with bottled water instead of tea. Dine-in will not be available. Distribution begins at 5 p.m. 

 

Senior Citizen Aid

 

The Nassau County Council of Aging announced free meals for senior citizens and operational changes due to the virus. 

Meals will be delivered to seniors age 60 and over through a new “Boots on the Ground” effort.

“Our ‘Boots on the Ground’ effort is ready to deliver meals to Nassau County seniors,” said Janice Ancrum, NCCOA president and CEO. “During this challenging time, many seniors do not feel comfortable leaving their home. This means they may go without food. Help is on the way. NCCOA staff and volunteers are here to ensure the safety and well-being of this vulnerable population.”

Any Nassau County senior may request five meals at this time. Additional meals will be available upon request. 

To make a request, call 904-261-0701 and ask for meals. Provide your name, address, phone number and birth date and your meal delivery will be scheduled.

During a meeting at the Emergency Operations Center Monday afternoon, the Nassau County Commission unanimously approved a $50,000 distribution to support this additional food delivery to seniors. The monies will derive from the county’s emergency reserves fund. 

The funds could also be utilized to pay NCCOA employees to shop for seniors’ groceries. Citizens would then reimburse the shopper for items purchased. 

All COA facilities are closed and support groups suspeneded.

“All NCCOA-related classes, activities and support groups will be suspended at both the Fernandina Live Center and Hilliard Life Center until further notice,” Ancrum said in a press release Monday. “The Amelia Island Duplicate Bridge Club has also paused its weekly games indefinitely.” 

The Adult Day HealthCare program and the daily “Just Friends” senior groups will meet until Friday and then cease meetings until further notice.

“We will continue meal delivery to this affected group after that date,” Ancrum noted. “One-in-three seniors in Nassau County suffer from food insecurity, i.e., they do not know where their next meal is coming from, as well as lack of nutritious food options. NCCOA will help ensure that our seniors receive meals and any other necessities they require, e.g., groceries, prescriptions, etc.”

NassauTRANSIT will continue its normal public transit schedule and registered paratransit service, unless otherwise directed by the Florida Department of Transportation, according to Ancrum. 

Home health services will continue to be provided by NCCOA home health aides and CNAs in seniors’ homes. New space rentals at the Fernandina Beach Life Center are halted until further notice. 

For general questions about the NCCOA, call Liz Dunn, marketing and communications director at 904-775-5473 or Ancrum at 904-775-5495.

 

Events Canceled 

 

The West Nassau Historical Society’s Railroad Day event scheduled for April 18 was rescheduled to Nov. 7. The event will return in April 2021. 

According to event co-chair John Hendricks, the historical society’s annual fundraiser will be held in conjunction with the Hobos, Hot Rods and Heroes Festival and Car Show. 

“Vendors, exhibitors and attendees, their health is of the utmost importance,” Hendricks said. “Vendors who have already paid for spots will be notified by email concerning credits toward future events.” 

The Relay for Life of Nassau County is postponed. A new date is not known. It was originally scheduled for April 25. The Crowns for the Cure Beauty Pageant scheduled for April 4 is also postponed.

Also, Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller posted on Facebook Monday morning that this year’s Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival scheduled for May 1-3 is canceled. The annual festival debuted in Fernandina Beach in 1964. 

“Based on CDC recommended measures, the Shrimp Festival committee has decided to cancel this year’s event,” he wrote. “In addition, all official City of Fernandina Beach meetings are canceled for the rest of the month and possibly longer.”

 

Churches Adjust

 

Some area churches held services Sunday while others aired services via live streaming on YouTube, church websites and social media. 

With President Donald Trump’s recent announcement that gatherings should be limited to 10 or less people, services are now online only at churches throughout Nassau County.

Callahan First Baptist Church urged the church community to pray with others and share Scripture, offer to take neighbors to doctor appointments, pick up prescriptions for the elderly or grocery shop for them. An offer to take care of children of working parents was also listed via social media. 

Check with your church on where to view services as a state social distancing mandate remains in effect.

The Florida Department of Health #COVID19 Call Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866-779-6121 or email your questions to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.