By Allen Edmonds
As the number of positive COVID 19 cases ballooned to 6 in Cass County on Friday – 2 each in Belton and Raymore – restaurants and entertainment venues either closed or converted to all drive-thru and carry-out, and residents came to grip with the reality of exactly what “social distancing” means, everyone began familiarizing themselves with a new reality.
Elected officials learned quickly how to “stream” their images and voices from living rooms and home offices to city halls and school district headquarters, and far-reaching and impactful decisions were made with minimal debate.
It is a “new normal,” but school officials are doing everything in their power to keep the process of learning in place, and meals in their students’ stomachs.
And in Belton, a controversial water rate increase that was passed just days earlier for the coming year, was reversed for the time being by the City Council at the urging of City Manager Alexa Barton, who told the council it was important that residents not limit their hand-washing and cleaning because of money worries, in the face of the pandemic. Following is a roundup of announcements made by local authorities:
The Cass County Commission on Tuesday issued an Emergency Order prohibiting all public gatherings with more than 10 people in attendance or anticipated to attend, with theexceptions granted for governmental and judicial functions, daycare facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, private business operations, religious and faith-based activities, weddings and funerals.
Perhaps the most visible of the conditions of the order, however, was the closure of all restaurants, dining facilities, bars, taverns, clubs and movie theaters, except for drive-through , carryout and delivery food and beverage service.
CITY OF BELTON
The City of Belton’s City Council met in emergency session on Thursday to its state of emergency, a move that duplicated that of the county, but allowed city management to execute certain orders and agreements required to address the emergency.
The council also voted to defer the implementation of the water and sewer rate increases to June 1, approved a final plat for the Shady Lane Community, and approved a zoning change to Planned Unit Development for 6.3 acreas of the parccel located on the northeast corner of Mullen Road and Sycamore Drive.
Because the council’s next meeting date remains in flux, Mayor Jeff Davis told the council it was important to get the development issues taken care of.
All city building lobbies, the Eagles’ Landing Golf Course and High Blue Wellness Center are closed for now.
CITY OF RAYMORE
The City of Raymore has also announced the closure of its City Hall.
“We strongly urge you to follow every preventive measure advised by the CDC to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Kris Turnbow.
“Even if you feel healthy, you may inadvertently spread the virus to high-risk individuals, such as the elderly and those with existing health conditions if you do not follow basic preventive measures,” he said.
CITY OF PECULIAR
Mayor Holly Stark announced Tuesday that she had authorized the closure of all city building lobbies to the public to limit city staff and resident exposure to COVID-19, effective immediately.
For utility payments, residents can still pay their bill online, place the payment in the drop box or use the drive-up window.
For other business, the city is still open and use of the drive-up window is available for all other transactions that would normally take place inside, including new utility account setup, permitting, business licenses and boat permits.
Included in the closure are City Hall, the Public Works facility on Harper Road, Municipal Court and the Peculiar Police Department.
Cancellations include: the March 17 Community for All Ages meeting at City Hall; the March 18-25 and April 2 Route C (Main Street) Improvements meetings and City Hall; the March 13 and April 13 Parks and Recreation Leagues and Fitness classes; the March 23 Missouri American Water Town Hall meeting at the Lions Club and the April 4 Peculiar Area Chamber of Commerce Easter Egg Hunt at West Peculiar Fire District headquarters.
Municipal Court appearances on the March 23 docket are rescheduled to May 11 at 5:30 p.m., and water shutoffs for non-payment of utility bills will be suspended until April 23, however, unpaid March utility bills will still be assessed the late fee.
The Belton School Board conducted an online meeting on Wednesday for an update on plans for distance learning beginning and meal delivery next week.
The board also voted to close all buildings through April 3.
All athletic and activity events, including practices and rehearsals, have been canceled until further notice.
Superintendent Andy Underwood wanted to make it clear that while the buildings were closed for use, “school” would still be taking place starting March 25. Teachers and students, along with support from parents, will be participating in distance learning opportunities. Some students may work online to complete assignments, while others will be sent paper packets with supportive items.
“We will do the work and complete the 2019-2020 school year,” said Underwood.
“We realize distance learning will be a new challenge. Our desire is to maintain your child’s learning momentum to the greatest extent possible.”
All staff will be working in some format in the coming days and weeks. Many are working and/or teaching remotely from home, while other staff will be working to clean the buildings and prepare packets for students.
The district will be providing free meals to any child who needs one. Seven locations around Belton will serve grab-and-go sack meals twice a day: Southfork’s Clubhouse parking lot, Crown Mobile Home Park on Crown Park Road, Kentucky Trail Elementary parking lot, Hargis Apartments on N Chestnut, Cimarron Trails Park on Westover, Country View Park on Chula Vista, and Belton Middle School’s south parking lot. Families can come by from 8:30-11:30 a.m. to get breakfast and lunch, and then return from 4:30-5:30 p.m. for sack dinners.
Ray-Pec Schools are also preparing for distance learning, beginning Tuesday, March 24.
Families should receive further information on Monday, March 23.
If you do not have internet access, learning materials or resources will be available in this manner: Grades PreK-5 - hard copy materials will be available at your child’s school starting on March 24 during regular school hours; Grades 6-12 - you will be contacted by your child’s school. If you have not been contacted by Tuesday, March 24, please call the office at your child’s school.
Meal service dates: For families who rely on school meals, to-go breakfast and lunch will be provided at no charge to any Ray-Pec student Monday through Friday, March 23 through April 3.
Meal service times: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Pick up breakfast OR lunch OR breakfast and lunch
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Pick up lunch (if lunch was not picked up in the morning).
Meal service locations: Ray-Pec students can be served at any of these sites. Please note that in order to continue to provide nutritional services for our students who depend on them, the meals are for students only, and not for adults. Children need to be present when meals are picked up.
Peculiar Elementary School, 201 E. Third St., Peculiar; Eagle Glen Elementary School, 100 S. Foxridge Dr., Raymore; Raymore Elementary School, 500 S. Madison, Raymore; and Timber Creek Elementary School, 310 E. Calico Dr., Raymore.
To ensure an appropriate amount of food is prepared, please RSVP here (preferably by 8 p.m. the evening before you will pick up a meal).
If you are unable to pick up to-go meals, please contact Dr. Bryan Pettengill, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services, at email@example.com.
Childcare: Panther Pride School-Age Child Care and the Shark’s Den at Shull Early Learning Center are closed until further notice.
PreK Registration and Kindergarten Screening: PreK Registration, scheduled for March 25, is postponed. Kindergarten Screening, scheduled for March 31 and April 2, is postponed. Information will be shared when these events are re-scheduled.
Activities and athletics: Scheduled school events, including extracurricular and athletic activities, and school-sponsored trips, are canceled until further notice. This includes rehearsals, club meetings, practices, competitions, and off-season conditioning. We will advise when activities may resume.
Caring About Nutrition (CAN) food assistance: The Ray-Pec Public School Foundation will continue to assist students with nutritional needs while they are away from school. Qualifying students typically receive a weekly child-friendly food package for the weekend. If you would like to donate food or money or help package or deliver food packages, please contact Jodie Huston at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your family circumstances have recently changed and you would like to receive the weekly food packages, please notify Jodie Huston.
As we continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are following guidelines from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and other local and national health organizations.
All plans will be evaluated on an ongoing basis and adjusted accordingly. We are working hard to help our students and families through this unprecedented time of school closure.
BELTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
To help reduce the spread of respiratory illness, HCA Midwest Health has restricted all non-essential visitors. We will allow exceptions for: One parent or guardian for pediatric patients; one parent or guardian for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies; one support person for labor and delivery patients; one support person for patients with disabilities or impairments warranting assistance; one support person/driver for patients in outpatient surgery; one support person for critically ill patients who may be at end of life.
Please note that any individual granted an exception who screens positive will not be allowed in our facilities. We understand that this policy is difficult for patients and visitors. However, we must make these new restrictions out of an abundance of caution to keep our patients and caregivers as safe as possible.
CASS REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
Cass Regional Medical Center continues to monitor developments regarding the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and its potential impact on the hospital and area communities.
No-Visitor Policy: Effective Wednesday, March 18, Cass Regional implemented a no-visitor policy. Exceptions include: allowing one caregiver for minor or mentally-disabled patients; one caregiver/driver for surgery and/or outpatient testing; one caregiver/driver for Emergency Department or clinic visits; and one dedicated family member where end of life care is being given. If a visitor is identified to have one or more risk factors during screening at the hospital entry doors, he or she will not be allowed to enter the facility.
Volunteers: Effective Wednesday, March 18, Cass Regional will discontinue the use of volunteers throughout the medical center and at Rock Haven Medical Mall. This decision was made to protect the health and well-being of the volunteers, who will be welcome to return to their volunteer positions after the COVID-19 emergency is over.
Students: Effective immediately, though at least April 5, clinical rotations for many students will be canceled. This decision does not impact medical or nurse practitioner students; however, these students will not be allowed to participate in the care of a positive patient, or patient under investigation for COVID-19.
Surge Planning: Cass Regional continues to work with Missouri Hospital Association officials to encourage the state of Missouri to enact waivers approved by the federal government on Friday, March 13. The waiver in question would allow critical access hospitals such as Cass Regional Medical Center to exceed the current limit of 25 patient beds.
Elective Surgeries: The American College of Surgeons and the U.S. Surgeon General have sent out recommendations for surgeons in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. To preserve acute care hospitals’ capacity to provide services to COVID-19 patients, they asked that hospitals, hospital systems, and surgeons “thoughtfully review all scheduled elective procedures.”
Cass Regional currently has the capacity and supplies to provide all medically necessary services to COVID-19 patients. At this time, the hospital is not postponing any surgeries or procedures. Cass Regional continues to actively monitor the COVID-19 situation in the area, and in the future may ask providers to consider postponing, for at least 30 days, any surgery or procedure that will not, in the provider’s judgment, adversely affect the patient’s short or long-term health. Cass Regional encourages patients who are scheduled for surgery to contact their doctor if they have questions or concerns.