Last Updated: 11:11 a.m.
The Flagler County School District will launch daily, free food distribution at four county schools for all children 18 and younger starting Monday (March 23) and for the duration of the coronavirus emergency, Superintendent Jim Tager announced this morning.
The county will also apply new guidelines requiring that all gatherings of 10 or more people be scrapped. Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center was partially activated this morning–as it would, say, on the approach of a hurricane emergency, but at a lower level–“to further enhance this service delivery,” Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord said.
“Please do not panic, but also do not ignore this threat,” Lord said. “Please stay connected and monitor the latest guidance, and do your part to protect yourself, your family and our entire community.”
For the first time today, Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder revealed the number of “persons that are under investigation” in Flagler County. “Three of the six have been tested. The three that have are negative for Covid-19.”
The school district is also preparing to launch distance education for all students starting March 30, should schools’ physical campuses not reopen on that day. The state Department of Education’s current order applies until March 30, but Tager is at least signaling the possibility that the return to school may be extended further.
Calling it “this unprecedented health crisis,” Tager presented the two initiatives during a brief news conference at the Emergency Operations Center midmorning today, where Lord, Snyder and Sheriff Rick Staly also provided updates and explanations about current protocols–all of which are constantly in a fluid state.
The Food distributions will consist of free lunch for that day, and a free breakfast for the following day, for each child who shows up. The children must be present to qualify for their lunch and breakfast. The distributions will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. This does not mean that meals will be served at each school site, to be consumed there; the meals must be collected and taken home for consumption at home.
The distribution sites are Bunnell Elementary, Indian Trails Middle School, Buddy Taylor Middle School/Wadsworth Elementary (on the Wadsworth side) and Flagler Palm Coast High School. “We will provide a lunch for that day and a breakfast for the following morning at no cost to children 18 years and younger,” Tager said.
There is to be no distinction between students who are on free or reduced lunch, and children who are not. But in accordance with federal regulations, adults accompanying the children will not qualify for any food distribution–at least not in that framework. The district has been in contact with local food banks to help bridge that gap as well, but those plans have not been announced. Grace Community Food Pantry has offered to expand its services in partnership with the district to provide meals to the needy.
“We want to make sure we get this right,” District spokesman Jason Wheeler said. School resource deputies will be at the four sites regulating traffic flow and ensuring orderly distributions.
Lord said that later today the county will adjust its guidance regarding social distancing, to be with federal guidelines. “We will most likely say,” Lord said, “that any gatherings of 10 or more people should not occur.” He said that doesn’t mean restaurants should close, but they should “modify their service delivery process,” which means take-out only, and “which we implore all of our local businesses to adopt immediately,” Lord said.
The new guidelines, he said, means “avoid eating in restaurants and bars.” They also mean avoidance of “discretionary travel.”
The county has modified its elderly meal programs to delivery only. The county’s libraries in Palm Coast and Bunnell have closed.
Staly described new guidelines in place at the 911 dispatch center and with deputies in the field. The 911 operators will be asking a series of questions to callers to determine whether responders must don protective gear before entering homes. Deputies will be speaking with residents from a 6-foot distance and may ask residents to step outside their home to speak.
“We’re not slowing down,” the sheriff said. “If you are a criminal and need to be arrested and go to the jail, you’re still going to be arrested and go to the jail.” New inmates are to be screened by the arresting officer and are again screened by the medical staff at the jail, where “it’s important for us to keep the virus out of the jail.”
Snyder says testing protocols are changing, with more testing about to take place and yielding what is almost certain to be an uptick in the number of Covid–19 cases. Once a person tests positive, he said, the department of health’s epidemiological team kicks in, tracing the origin of the infection. “I want to ensure the community that you are surrounded by a wonderful department of health in every single county, especially here in Flagler County. We know what to do,” he said, again stressing the need to pay attention to hygiene guidelines, from hand washing to sneezing the correct way (“let’s imitate Dracula.”)
[This is a developing story. More soon.]
So why exactly are the children who aren’t poor kids, allowed to get the free handout food? Shouldnt the Parents just make them some food at home?
This seems irresponsible to feed rich children ,its the very poor children and parents that live in affordable housing units or are homeless that need help, not the ones who have jobs and live in a home
I’m isolated and now bored enough to comment says
I would think a safe assumption would be that it’s to not bottleneck distribution. The tiny percentage of folks taking advantage are not worth slowing the process or requiring the exchange of proof-of-need, further risking contamination. It also allows for temporary assistance for those now in need who weren’t before. Like the thousands of community neighbors who suddenly are out of work.
Succinctly put. Thank you. I to am isolated and bored enough to comment. I should be cleaning something…
So if they test us and we are negative watch is the accuracy if soon after the test we become positive in passing somewhere else who has the virus.
The article states all children under 18.
Robin Palisoc says
How can I volunteer?
The parents of the “rich kids” are also out of work!! Really!!
Feed the children. PERIOD!!!
Susan J says
Well…. this is great in theory. However, this is still going to be costly for parents! Its gonna cost fuel to go there everyday! The schools know how many kids are in the household. Make it a weeks supply for each child! Do not attack me I have fuel in my vehicle but I work with social services in Flagler Co and I know this will be a issue!
The Geode says
Maybe that’s something you should think of BEFORE you have a child you can’t feed without someone else’s help…
Mary Fusco says
AMEN! Schools are for educating. Not feeding and raising kids. Last I heard, if you were a parent, this was your job.
Marty Barrett says
For Christ’s sake Staly, we get it, you are tough on crime. Can you take 5 seconds off from the tough talking jingoism though and just try to communicate without all the chest-thumping. The eye-rolls it induces might distract from an actual important message you might one day be able to offer
Percy's mother says
Everyone lives in his or her own mental world with varying degrees of reality.
Gary Michaux says
uhm….because its taxpayers money …so lets just feed the lazy , and so called poor ..smh even well to do people live sometimes paycheck to paycheck….and you can just thank the dems for there courtesy..although,…ill bet you will be the fist person in the line, unless you dont have kids , then you just should have not commented.
Mary Fusco says
This is so ridiculous. Years ago, my husband was out of work for almost a year due to an illness. His paycheck waS cut in half. We had a mortgage, bills and 4 kids to feed. I didn’t work. Guess what? we worked it out and you know why, because NO ONE else was going to feed them. This beggar generation has to go. Who ever heard of schools needing to feed children, A box of cheerios and some peanut butter and jelly does the job. Laziness knows no bounds it seems. Very sad.
Mike Cocchiola says
Yes, thank Democrats for caring enough about people that we fully support economic assistance for those who will lose their income and can’t pay their bills, the poorest among us whose children need school meals to survive, and the homeless who still need a meal and a place to sleep. Yes, it takes all of us to share a small amount of our good fortune with those less fortunate through our taxes because that’s what good people, good communities and good countries do.
Concerned Citizen says
ALL CHILDREN should be fed. Regardless of their financial background. Why hate on a child for what they have? Jealous much?
Why is it okay to go to the school cafeteria to eat, but unsafe to go to the classroom?
Worried Grandmom says
This still will put people at risk. More do the children. How many people are going to be in lines. Once again not using your heads. The idea is good the concept stinks. Hopefully, they can do a car riders line. It would be safer.
Those who are using this crisis to express their anger, fear and hatred of fellow human beings. . . especially children. . . should be greatly ashamed. Perhaps they should take the time for some deep introspection and analysis of their own insecurity and of their souls that must be filled with great pain. How very disturbing that some in our society and media (FOX) have reached such depravity.
Does any “reasonable” person really think that so called “RICH” people are just rubbing their hands and licking their chops over the possibility of getting that yummy free food from a school cafeteria. . . really?
Is there a possibility that we can all start acting like mature, responsible, calm, intelligent, caring citizens and STOP being completely greedy and panicked into acting out against others by hoarding, lashing out and posting political rants and FOX whataboutisms?
Certainly we will get through this, but can’t we take this opportunity to find our better angels and come together as a caring community? This is a time to take this situation seriously, and act responsibly for the “Common Good”!
concerned momma says
How are the children who live on the west side of the county supposed to get to the school to pick up their lunch?
90% of the school children either ride bus or they car pool, how in Gods name is the logistics designed to get the kids to the school to pickup their food?
Teens are caring for younger kids while parents who can’t stay home are at work. What happened to idea of distributing meals at students regular bus stops within walking distance of their homes?