Local Coronavirus Response: School Lunches, Parents Surveyed

LkldNow is compiling a daily roundup of news and announcements about local responses to preventing the spread of the COVID-19. Newer items will be posted at the top of the roundup so that readers can come back during the day and quickly find the latest additions.

Some Tigers Leaving

After Major League Baseball halted Spring Training and postponed the start of the regular season last week, Michigan news organizations reported that members of the Detroit Tigers voted to stay in Lakeland for informal workouts. Now it looks like some of them are heading back to the chilly north, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Restaurants Pivot

Numerous restaurants are emphasizing delivery, take-out and drive-up-pick-up services to serve customers who don’t want to dine with a crowd. We hope to come up with our list of local restaurant options, but for now check this list from the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce that focuses on dining spots that happen to be chamber members.

VISTE Pivots

Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, an organization that serves one of the groups most at-risk for coronavirus, is taking several steps to protect both clients — all 70 and older — and volunteers, many of them over 60, WFLA reports.

Steps incude:

  • Going back to Styrofoam instead of reusable containers for hot meals,
  • Discontinuing letting clients pick items off of shelves for the time being
  • Including coronavirus pamphlets with deliveries.
  • Prioritizing recurring appointments, including dialysis and chemotherapy, for personal transportation.

Lakeland Electric Suspends Cutoffs

Acknowledging that coronavirus will bring financial difficulties for some customers, Lakeland Electric has suspended service disconnections for non-payment “until further notice.” In addition, the utility said its workers in the field “will limit their contact through social distancing.”

Public School Parents Surveyed

Polk Public Schools used email and robocalls today to ask parents to take an online survey to determine online-learning capabilities in the event that the closure of schools lasts past March 30, the day schools are currently expected to reopen.

“This survey will help us understand how much technology your child may or may not have at home for online learning,” read the email, which included a Spanish translation. “The information we gather from this survey will help us to provide your child with learning resources in the event that school closures extend beyond March 30.”

When the survey was announced on Facebook, several commenters noted that the survey is unavailable to parents without online access.

Others noted that Spectrum Internet is being made available for free for the next 60 days to families with children in school. The company also said it will open its Wi-Fi hotspots for public use, free of charge.

YMCA Holiday Camp

Because schools are closed this week, the YMCA of West Central Florida opened a holiday camp today aimed at first responders and other parents who work who need care for their children between kindergarten and age 12. Because of health concerns, the Y is limiting the camp to 50 percent of normal capacity.

Cost is $20 per day; children are asked to bring a lunch or $5 for a pizza lunch. Parents will be asked to fill out a health form before their child is admitted. The usual $25 registration fee is waived. Holiday camps are available at both the North Lakeland and South Lakeland YMCA locations.

As of 11 a.m. today, there is room for about 70 more children on Tuesday.

Podcast: Watson Clinic Doctor

Dr. Jarett Gregory of Watson Clinic’s new South Urgent Care talks coronavirus and separates facts from myths with local podcaster/conversationalist Jae Choe.

Live Streaming Local Talent

With many entertainment venues going dark because of coronavirus concerns, Lkld Live is giving local artists a platform to perform courtesy of their sophisticated live-streaming gear.

The arts-and-entertainment nonprofit is planning an online telethon for Friday, March 27 and is looking for artists who want to participate as well as people who would like to donate. All proceeds will go to support local artists whose opportunities to work are disappearing as venues cut back.

Check this form to sign up as a performer or to donate.

Local experts speak

Three local public health experts will give an update on the response to COVID-19 and its challenges at the start of today’s City Commission meeting at 3 p.m.

View it live on watch at Lakelandgov.net or on cable: Spectrum 643 and FiOS 43. Later, it will be available at vimeo.com/lakelandgov. The speakers are:

School lunches

School lunches will be available Tuesday through Friday to public school students under 18 at 33 locations in Polk County, including eight in Lakeland. Sites are open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Students must be present to receive a meal, which will be distributed through a drive-up process. (Walk-up is available for those without a vehicle.)

Lakeland schools with lunches available are Churchwell Elementary, Crystal Lake Elementary, Highlands Grove Elementary, Padgett Elementary, R. Bruce Wagner Elementary, Rochelle School of the Arts, Scott Lake Elementary, Sleepy Hill Middle and Southwest Middle.