Local initiatives have been taken to help “flatten the curve,” a term that means to slow the rate of disease to a pace that could be managed by health facilities, of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The local school district announced a four-week closure. School work was taken home by students, and young athletes had their spring sports season postponed. Restaurants closed dine-in options. Other businesses, including day cares, shut its doors for the duration. Visitors are limited at health facilities. Each day, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks to the public and makes recommendations for entities in communities across the Commonwealth.
Dawson Springs Independent Schools Superintendent Lenny Whalen announced the district’s closure via Twitter on Thursday night.
Soon after, an email and phone call went out to all school contacts signed up to receive alerts: “We will close schools to live instruction from Monday, March 16, until Monday, April 13, after spring break.”
The move was made after a recommendation from Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday evening to help stop the spread of the COVID-19.
Whalen and the principal leadership group for the district gathered at the school board at 6 p.m. Thursday to go over plans. Earlier in the week, the teachers had started to prepare instructional packets because the district knew it would likely become mandatory in the coming weeks. The governor had asked that districts apply for an emergency waiver if they have not used the nontraditional path in the past. Dawson Springs applied for the waiver.
Whalen said the recommendation to close traditional school came sooner than the district had thought.
“We were pretty fortunate because a lot of teachers had already done some legwork,” Whalen said.
The students and staff convened Friday, and student work and nontraditional instruction information was sent home in the students’s backpacks.
“During this period, not including spring break, students will receive instruction via online platforms and other predetermined teacher assignments,” Whalen said in a news release.
He added that parents and family members should help ensure the student is completing assignments and keeping up communication with teachers.
The nontraditional instruction is a brand new idea for Dawson Springs Independent. Whalen said he wouldn’t typically use this type of instruction and he admits he is not a fan of it, but in the occurrence of a pandemic, there are not many choices.
“While we acknowledge this disruption to the normal school routine, we fully expect to provide the same high level of academic rigor ... that we see regularly,” Whalen said. “Mimicking a rich and authentic classroom environment is admittedly impossible, but we see this situation as an opportunity to personalize learning opportunities for our students.”
Packets include letters to parents, contact information, food schedules and instructional material tailored to each student’s needs. The lack of Internet access complicates the situation some, but “we’re prepared for that,” Whalen said.
Students who do not have access to the Internet have additional printed work. Those with Internet access will compete certain tasks, including iReady, online.
“Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps,” according to a news release from Charter Communications. “To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.”
Teachers are accessible electronically around regular school time, from about 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. during the week. They are available by email, phone or classroom applications. They will not be in the school buildings. Whalen said the district is limiting the number of people at the school.
Custodians have begun deep-cleaning the buildings and cafeteria workers have been preparing food. Most other employees will be working remotely, he said.
On Monday morning, teachers were stationed either in their homes or their classrooms ready to answer questions any parents or students had for them. Other staff members were pulled in to help the teachers.
Staff members called and messaged parents using their cellphones, landlines or classroom apps. The district is seeking two-way communication so parents and teachers are on the same page in regard to the student’s education.
Some teachers, including preschool teacher Kammie King, second-grade teacher Lauren Hibbs and third-grade teacher Shelby Johnson, have taken to Facebook live to read children books or help with instruction.
Because many teachers and aides miss the students, who miss them in return, a conference meeting is planned for Thursday evening through an application called Zoom. For more information, contact a teacher at the school.
Dawson Springs Elementary School teacher Marcella McCuiston set up shop at her dining room table Monday morning. She was armed with her laptop, her cellphone, a packet similar to the ones given to the students, a schedule and other documents, including guidelines set out by the school district for the nontraditional instruction days ahead. Her cordless landline phone was within reach.
McCuiston, who teaches first grade, said she is there to help any student who needs help. She is finding out when parents are available to talk and to aid them in completing the worksheets in the packet. She told parents and her students to work steadily on the assignments, suggesting one math worksheet, front and back, and one reading worksheet, front and back, each day. Students must also complete lessons on some online programs.
Across the table from McCuiston is her son, Carlton. He is a junior at Dawson Springs High School. He said he plans to mirror the NTI days off his classroom schedule. A high-schooler’s day is filled with seven periods and lunch. Each period lasts about 45 minutes. Carlton said he has tried to spend 45 minutes on each class.
Carlton is part of group chat on Snapchat and can communicate with his classmates about the content. Unlike the elementary school students who are just reviewing material, the high-schoolers will learn new concepts during the NTI days.
Carlton’s thoughts drifted to the fishing team, a team with which he competes in the spring. McCuiston and her husband, Joey, assist the team. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced Friday that all sports will enter a “dead period” until April 12.
The senior trip to Destin, Fla., was originally scheduled for April 2-7. It has been postponed until May 14-19, as approved by the Dawson Springs school board on Monday night.
Whalen said the future of the sports, prom and graduation has not been determined. Career Day for this year has been canceled.
Food is provided to students in a couple of different ways. A bus filled with breakfasts and lunches transports the food to bus stops in the city at 10:30 a.m. to noon each day school would have been in session. In addition, there is a drive-thru pick up station in front of the gymnasium from 11 a.m. to noon each day.
Whalen said the district’s plan to get the students fed went “extremely well” on the first day of the district’s closure.
Dawson Springs Independent Schools delivered more than 500 meals to students on Monday and 622 on Tuesday, Whalen said.
The Hopkins County YMCA offers a dinner option to residents age 18 and younger by making stops at a few places in Dawson Springs so children can come by and grab another meal.
Jason Hale, who works in the district and coordinates local efforts through the YMCA, drive the organization’s van to Clarkdale Court Apartments each weekday from 2:30 to 2:50 p.m. The next stop is the Dawson Springs City Park from 2:55 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. The last stops are Belmont Apartments from 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. and the Hard Work Cafe at the school from 4 to 5 p.m.
More information will be available at the district website (www.dawsonsprings.kyschools.us), on the district Facebook page (Dawson Springs Independent School System), Whalen’s Twitter page (@DSSuptWhalen) or by calling the board office or the school (270-797-3811).
“Despite the hardships created by this situation, we are blessed locally by the strong partnerships we have between our schools, our families and the entire community,” Whalen said.
Following a mandate Monday from the governor, restaurants closed at 5 p.m. to in-store dining.
Ms. Becky’s Place announced on Facebook that take-out orders will be taken. The restaurant’s phone number is 270-797-2228.
Fiesta Acapulco Mexican Restaurant will take carry-out orders for the rest of the week. Order can be placed over the phone by calling 270-425-2019 or 270-875-0255. The restaurant has opened its drive-thru.
Dairy Queen’s drive-thru will be open and truckers are invited to walk up to order food.
The Subway inside Ideal Market is taking orders for pick up. The restaurant’s phone number is 270-797-2858.
Casey’s General Store will have food available and offers delivery. The business phone number is 270-797-5576.
Minit Mart can be reached at 270-797-2227.
Senior Bingo and buffets at Clifty Creek Restaurant at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park have been canceled until further notice as a precaution, said Haley Joseph, park naturalist. The dining room will be taking carry-out orders from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until further notice. Call 270-797-3421 to place your order for pick up.
The Dawson Springs Parent-Teacher Organization Father-Daughter Dance on March 28 has been postponed.
The Dawson Springs Museum and Art Center announced its closure Monday. It plans to re-open on April 7. The museum’s luncheon scheduled for later this month is also postponed.
The Dawson Springs Senior Citizens Center at Clarkdale Court is closed until further notice.
The Dawson Springs Branch Library will be closed effective today through March 30. All scheduled programs are canceled through March 30 including bookmobile outreach. The library plans to reopen March 31 at their regularly scheduled time, if safe to do so. The branch library is not accepting any new meeting room reservations at this time, but they will honor all existing paid reservations. They encourage the public to follow state-recommended guidelines in determining whether to keep these reservations for the Katherine Barnett Meeting Room during the library’s closure.
Materials that are currently checked out may be returned at any time at one of the book drops located at both libraries. Overdue fines will not accrue for those materials during the closure.
Staff will work in the building during the closure to process returns, answer phone calls, and perform other critical tasks. To reach the Dawson Springs library, call 270-797-8990.
No new bookings are being accepted at the Dawson Springs Community Center, said Dusty Vinson, who handles scheduling with his wife, Jessica. The Vinsons will contact any people who have an event reserved at the center within the next month. Vinson can be reached at 270-339-0156.
“We have made the decision to close due to the corona virus,” Hollie Howton announced on the Hollie’s Florist and Gift Shoppe Facebook page. The business phone has been forwarded to Howton’s personal line. Hollie’s can be reached at 270-797-9000.
Beauty Shop on the Square stylists had adjusted their schedules to limit the number of people in the salon to no more than 10 at one time, owner Lindsey Morgan announced. On Tuesday, Beshear called for salons to be closed as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Dawson Springs has other salons, including Laura’s Stylin’ Salon and Candy’s Salon.
Beshear also called for businesses who face the public to limit contact.
Rex Parker Insurance can be reached at 270-797-2961.
For quoting, policy change or other insurance services contact the office by phone, mobile messages (text) at 270-883-5804 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For payments, you may pay online or over the phone with your carrier. For claims, you may contact the office or your carrier. Customers can call to schedule an appointment or visit the website at www.rexparkerins.com for more information.
Harned Insurance is open as of Tuesday evening. Contact them at 270-797-3021.
Dollar General stores are adjusting their hours and product limits. The Dawson Springs store will close an hour earlier at 9 p.m. Also, the first hour the store is opened is dedicated to elderly shoppers. The store opens at 7 a.m. The sale of wipes, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products will be limited.
Organizers of Dawson Springs Mule and Draft Horse Days are moving forward until “we are told otherwise,” said Mike Russell. He added that the group is receiving updates from local officials and will follow their recommendations.
Planters Bank has its Dawson Springs branch open and the bank has a drive-thru. The bank’s phone number is 270-797-5260.
US Bank in Dawson Springs also has its lobby open and a drive-thru available. You can reach the bank at 270-797-2976.
Beshear Funeral Home is complying with Beshear’s recommendations to only include immediate family at visitation and services. “These are different times,” said Jenny Sewell, owner.
The city of Dawson Springs announced Monday that its Tuesday night meeting would be canceled after Gov. Beshear suggested meetings with large crowds be canceled. The garbage truck is down, city officials said, and trash pickup is on a one-day delay and will run through today.
Dawson Springs Mayor Chris Smiley was set to meet with Hopkins County officials on Wednesday morning. No information was released prior to press deadline.
South Hopkins Water District office is closed to the public, but employees are in the office and taking payments.
Hopkins County government offices closed Wednesday to in-person traffic. A phone call to any entity in county government during regular working hours will likely be answered. Many tasks will be taken online or deadlines will be pushed back.
As posted on its Facebook page, Dawson Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center is suspending visitation at the facility until further notice. While there are no cases at the nursing home, staff will be screened when showing up for work and anyone not meeting the criteria set by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, the Department for Public Health and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will not be allowed to work at the facility.
Tradewater Health and Rehabilitation Center, adjacent to and in the same medical health system as Dawson Springs Health and Rehab, also has instituted the policy.
To reach Tradewater, call 270-797-8132. To call Dawson Springs Health and Rehab, call 270-797-2025.
In addition, Baptist Health Madisonville has implemented similar measures. There are no confirmed cases in the facility, the hospital announced in a news release.
Beginning Tuesday, Baptist Health Madisonville changed its visitation policy to allow one immediate family member or patient representative per patient at a time. NICU babies are allowed both parents and exceptions may be made for end of life situations. Stickers will be used to monitor visitation flow.
The next day, the hospital started its controlled access plan for people to enter the building. The main hospital lobby doors will remain closed. Patients and visitors are asked to enter the facility through the following entrances: Heart & Vascular Center Lobby- Mon-Fri, 7 am- 5 pm; Merle M. Mahr Cancer Center (cancer patients and their support person only please)- Mon-Fri 7 am- 5 pm; Emergency Department-all emergency patients, open 24/7; and Same Day Surgery- Mon-Fri, 6 am- 5 pm.
Patients and visitors will be screened, with temperatures taken, at these entry points before being allowed into the facility. All outside food and floral deliveries will not be allowed.
Dawson Springs Fitness Formula closed Wednesday following Gov. Beshear’s mandate. Staff will contact employers if you have payroll deduction to suspend the deduction until this situation resolves. For other memberships, staff will extend current memberships by the amount of time that the facility is closed to some customers. Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, CORE PT, and Pediatric Therapy Care remain open for all new and existing PT, OT, & Speech therapy patients.
Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church announced Sunday that all evening activities are canceled. At the time, the church planned to continue Sunday morning services with some modifications. There will be no hand-shaking and the plate will not be passed. Members should use judgment on whether to attend.
Dunn Missionary Baptist Church will not be meeting until at least April. Church leaders have set up a Facebook page to communicate with members: Dunn Missionary Baptist Church.
Dayspring Assembly of God in Dawson Springs has moved its Sunday morning and mid-week services to its Facebook page for the next few weeks. The online service times will be the same: 10:45 a.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday. For those who do not have access to Facebook or the Internet, hard copies of the messages preached and taught during this time will be available on CDs and handouts. Call the church at 270-797-2700 and leave a message if you’d like a hard copy.
All church activities at First Christian Church are canceled through the end of the day, Sunday, March 22. Pastor Mike Moschenrose will address the congregation on the church’s Facebook page for the following Sunday.
Walnut Grove Family Worship Center will have Sunday morning services as normal at 10:30 a.m. On Monday, church officials announced that services will change on April 5 and thereafter. Services will change to 2 p.m. Any questions can be answered at 270-875-5808.
Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church will be meeting at its usual time and place.
Landmark Church Pastor Rusty Akers said most members are encouraged to stay home this week and join services online. The services are broadcast live on pentecostallive.com. In addition, Glenda Akers will have a Facebook live available to view.
Dawson Springs Baptist Temple will have revival service at 6 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. Bro. Lonnie Mattingly from Louisville will be the guest pastor. If a ride is needed to the service, call Pastor Donnie Howton at 270-875-2932.
Dawson Springs First Baptist Church plans have not yet been announced. Bro. Trent Keeton said services will likely be moved to the church website and Facebook page this Sunday. Keeton is seeking advice from the Kentucky Baptist Convention. A decision should be made by Friday.
Resurrection Catholic Church has suspended Masses as called by Bishop William Medley of the Diocese of Owensboro.