Town Hall By Appt., 3/16 Superintendent’s Update, 3/16 Bindelglass Update, 3/16 Gov. Lamont Update

TOWN OF EASTON

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday March 16, 2020

TOWN HALL HOURS BY APPOINTMENT

Due to health concerns for the general public and our town employees raised by COVID-19, First Selectman Dr. David Bindelglass today announced that starting Tuesday March 17, 2020, Town Hall will begin operating by appointment only for essential services that require in-person meetings.  

Town Hall will be open for remote public access during the daytime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  We encourage residents to conduct normal business and service requests via telephone, e-mail or online, where possible. 

For business or services requiring meetings with town employees, Town Hall will be open for visitors by appointment only.  For scheduled appointments, please come into the Police Station entrance of Town Hall and call 203-268-6291 to gain entry.

Please call Town Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to make an appointment with the department you need to meet with. We will make every effort to accommodate reasonable requests. 

Thank you for your cooperation.


On Monday, March 16, ER9 Superintendent Dr. Tom McMorran released the following update:

Dear ER9 Community:

You will have heard by now that Governor Lamont has directed all schools in Connecticut to close through at least the end of March.  We must take into consideration the potential for schools to be closed for a longer period.

As the impact of the Coronavirus unfolds, we are shifting from a short-term closure to preparations for a longer period of having our buildings closed.

The Administration is working on a number of issues that must be addressed in order for us to be granted permission by the State to run our schools via the Internet in what we are calling Distance Learning.

Students and staff would use the Internet to log onto digital classroom space in which teachers would give assignments and present lessons, and students would take direction and complete and upload tasks.

You will receive further communications from ER9 as this week unfolds.  

1.  Please look for an explanation of the Food Program that will be starting by the end of this week.  The Food Service Program will offer drive up-and take-away lunch for students in need.  When we get it fully organized, breakfasts will also be offered  for students in need.  The meal pick-up location will be at the high school only.  A separate email will explain details. 

2.  The Administration will communicate plans to make district Chromebooks available to students who might need to borrow them.  We are working to provide Internet access and Chromebooks to the families that have expressed a need, and we are also planning to provide support to families who have Internet access, but perhaps more children at home than computers.  Details to follow in a separate email, most likely tomorrow or Wednesday.  

3.  The Administration is working out the agreements and documentation that we must submit to the State to be granted permission to undertake the Distance Learning approach.  We must be approved via a waiver in order to move forward.

4.  The thorough cleaning of our buildings has continued and we intend to maintain limited access to the schools.  If a family has a compelling need to pick something up from the schools, please call that school’s main office in advance to make arrangements.  This is for teachers and staff as well as students.

I continue to be grateful to our students, staff, faculty and community as we navigate these unusual times. 

Sincerely,

Tom McMorran, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Easton, Redding, and Region 9 School Districts

ER9 also released the following information about the food services program:

Dear ER9 Community:

During the time ER9 schools are closed, our Food Service Program will offer lunches and, once we have a system in place, breakfasts to students in need.

The Food Service Program in our five schools is managed by the Chartwells Food Company, which operates locally out of Joel Barlow High School. 

Commencing Thursday, March 19, the program will offer drive up-and take-away lunches (called “Grab and Go”)  for students in need.  The pick up area for all grade level students will be behind Joel Barlow High School at the back entrance to the cafeteria/food services area.  The area will be marked.  If you have never been to Barlow, please drive to the back parking lot of the high school using Turney Road in Redding. 

Here are the specifics:

  • Pickup times will be 11 am – 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.  Pickup times have been limited to minimize person-to-person contact as much as possible.
  • Each pick up will contain two lunches (i.e. Thursday’s pick up would have lunch for both Thursday and Friday).
  • We are hopeful to extend this next week to also include two breakfasts.
  • Please email our Business Operations Manager, Oliver Crouch (email address – ocrouch@er9.org), by 3 pm the day before the pickup time so we can ensure we have enough lunches prepared. 
  • In your email, please note the names of the students for whom you will be collecting meals and the school he/she attends.

Food related questions should go directly to the Director of Food Services – David Kennedy; telephone 203-938-0862.

We must also stress that this is a “Grab and Go” service; it has been designed for you to spend as little time as possible at the high school collecting your lunch(es).

Free and Reduced Meal Program:

Complete information on the free and reduced meal program, including the application process, is posted on all school Websites under “Parent Information” and is available at this link:  https://www.er9.org/parent_information/free_or_reduced_priced_meals  Any questions about this program should be directed to Oliver Crouch, Business Operations Manager (email ocrouch@er9.org).


Earlier on Monday, First Selectman Bindelglass posted the following message on the Town of Easton Website:

A Message from First Selectman Bindelglass… Update on COVID-19 RE: Town Government and Public Facilities

MARCH 16, 2020

Good morning. Today I am announcing several more changes to our town government in Easton and to our public facilities.

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, the Easton Library will be closed. It will reopen on Tuesday for drive by pick up and drop off of material only. We will post details on the Town and Library websites. Town Hall will work with a reduced staff. Most of the services provided by Town Hall can temporarily be done over the phone, email or online. Please limit your visits to Town Hall to those which are absolutely essential.  Larger public meetings (such as my brown bag lunch and evening meetings) and public information meetings (such as the ones regarding SHU) will be postponed. 

We are trying to find ways to continue the budget process including call backs for some departments, and the date for public hearing on the budget approaching. It is too early in this crisis to plan for our Annual Town Meeting. Boards and commissions can have some latitude to schedule their meetings in larger rooms, by conference call, or other electronic applications. The Governor of Connecticut will likely issue an Executive Order in the next few days defining what is permissible.

Going forward, social distancing is essential. The CDC recommends a distance of at least 6 feet from anybody else. Traveling, even to neighboring towns, should be done with caution and consideration for the necessity of the trip, especially for those who are at high risk. “High risk” means our seniors and individuals with chronic diseases which can diminish their immune systems. Visit the CDC website for more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

I feel that some perspective here is valuable and necessary. There will be people in Easton with Coronavirus and most likely there are people in Easton – right now – who already have the virus. While the virus seems to be highly contagious, it also seems that about 80% of people infected have little or no symptoms, and may never know that they were infected (which is why social distancing is an imperative). Often times, those who get very sick also happen to be in the high risk group (as mentioned above) and may not present as someone who is high risk because some underlining diseases are not visible from the outside.  

I would like to urge parents to think carefully about your children. In this day and age, no matter how you may try to shield even our smallest children, they know that something is very different. They most likely have never been suddenly out of school and had their routines disrupted for longer than a bad snow storm or weather emergency delay. This will be different and longer in comparison. If we are visibly panicked, they may pick up on that and express it in many different ways. Some may not have the understanding to view what is going on in the way that hopefully we, as adults, can. As parents, all have different approaches to this, and I do not want to be prescriptive, so please give some thought as to what and how much age appropriate information to give your children.

Central Office (Easton, Redding, and Region 9) and all other administrators are working feverishly to prepare a plan for educating our children at this time. Having worked on the Easton Board of Education, I can tell you the many layers of complexity involved in pulling this together when starting from scratch. Our dedicated staff, administrators, and ER9 community all want what is best for the young adults and children of Easton and Redding. Please be patient as the arrangements are put into place for the near future. Please make sure that you are signed up to receive alerts from ER9 and the Town so you can plan accordingly.

The degree to which all of our lives are being disrupted is dramatic as well as frustrating. Please be patient, be well, be careful and we will all get through this together.

David Bindelglass
First Selectman

On March 16, Gov. Lamont’s Office also issued the following press release:

Northeast Governors From Connecticut, New York, New Jersey Announce Collective Measures to Combat Spread of COVID-19

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, and Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey today announced a regional approach to combatting the novel coronavirus – or COVID-19 – throughout the tri-state area.

These uniform standards will limit crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people effective 8PM tonight. This follows updated guidance that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued yesterday recommending the cancellation or postponement of in-person events consisting of 50 people or more.

The three governors also announced that restaurants and bars that serve food will temporarily be required to move to take-out and delivery services only. Bars that do not serve food will be required to temporarily close. These measures will take effect at 8PM tonight.

Finally, the three governors said they will temporarily close movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, and similar public workout facilities and studios. New York and New Jersey will close commercial casinos effective at 8PM tonight. Governor Lamont will do the same for the state’s physical off-track betting facilities, noting their willingness to voluntarily close. In addition, Governor Lamont and Governor Cuomo are strongly urging their tribal partners to close tribal casinos.

This uniform approach to social distancing is meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Governor Lamont said, “We must do everything we can as a community to slow the spread of this virus so that we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system and we protect the most vulnerable. Viruses do not know borders, which is why taking a regional approach on this issue is the best plan forward. A national approach to these measures would be the best option to slow and mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Governor Cuomo said, “Our primary goal right now is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new infections doesn’t crash our healthcare system, and everyone agrees social distancing is the best way to do that. This is not a war that can be won alone, which is why New York is partnering with our neighboring states to implement a uniform standard that not only keeps our people safe but also prevents ‘state shopping’ where residents of one state travel to another and vice versa. I have called on the federal government to implement nationwide protocols but in their absence we are taking this on ourselves.”

Governor Murphy said, “With all we are seeing in our state – and across our nation and around the world – the time for us to take our strongest, and most direct, actions to date to slow the spread of coronavirus is now. I’ve said many times over the past several days that, in our state, we are going to get through this as one New Jersey family. But if we’re all in this together, we must work with our neighboring states to act together. The work against coronavirus isn’t just up to some of us, it’s up to all of us.”

See https://portal.ct.gov/governor for more information.

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