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With the coronavirus threat escalating, Franklin County government and the school system have closed operations effective at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with staff not returning until 8 a.m. on April 16.

Franklin County Mayor David Alexander and Director of Schools Stanley Bean said the closure is necessary to further isolate employees from the public as much as possible with the coming week expected to be potentially the worst segment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander said solid waste collection sites will also be closed through the week-long duration, and he advised that residents plan in advance to get rid of their garbage before the 4:30 p.m. Wednesday closure.

Alexander said law enforcement, emergency service personnel and first responders will remain on staff during the week.

Bean said the pandemic has left many issues undecided.

He said he won’t have any bearing for about two weeks on when graduation might be held.

Initial plans were to have the Franklin County High School prom on May 9. However, the pandemic has left everything in an uncertain state.

Bean said that school meal programs are still being offered with the normal schedule continuing through Thursday. He added that Friday is the Good Friday holiday preceding Easter, and meals won’t be served on that day.

However, he said the lunch schedule will change next week.

Bean said Broadview and North Lake elementary schools have had staffing issues, so they will not be serving meals after this week.

All the other schools, excluding North and South middle schools which are under construction, will offer meals from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the students who were picking up meals at Broadview and North Lake can go to any of the other schools.

Bean said the serving schedule will be reduced to only Mondays and Thursdays with three meals provided on each to ensure students have food from Monday through Saturday.

He said the meals on distribution days will be served hot with cold meals on the remaining two days.

Bean said the only day food is not being provided is on Sunday.

He said about 3,000 meals have been served daily through the pandemic period.

Alexander and Bean stressed that the main objective is to keep people away from others as much as possible to curb the potential to spread the coronavirus.

Alexander said the county’s budget-setting status is also uncertain because county government doesn’t know the extent of how the pandemic will impact the financial picture.

Bean said that sales tax revenue will be impacted because people have been spending less while being isolated. He encouraged residents to shop locally because those sales tax dollars benefit the school system.

Bean also stressed that parents who have kindergarten-aged children need to make sure they are registered to get an accurate head count to determine how many teachers will be needed in the coming school year.

An April 1 school registration date has been canceled, but the process can be completed online at the school system’s website or on the Franklin County School District Facebook page.