WAVERLY – With schools closed and limitations put on some local businesses, Waverly is feeling the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cars lined up at District 145 school buildings last week as parents were handed packets for their children to use as they work from home.
Last week, the school extended its spring break to run through March 20, with the intention that school would resume on March 23. However, as the coronavirus began to spread through Nebraska, state and federal officials began recommending schools be closed longer.
Most schools, like District 145 in Waverly, are in a holding pattern for now. Superintendent Dr. Cory Worrell said it is not known if the semester will resume.
“This is a question that is not answerable right now,” he said.
The district has come up with a distance learning plan for students that was implemented on Wednesday.
“We have worked to provide our students online learning opportunities while we are in the closure situation,” Worrell said.
Students that do not have a computer at home were assigned Chromebooks. Internet access is also an issue for some families.
“We are working through this issue at this time,” said Worrell. “This includes the district providing internet access to those students who don’t have internet at home.”
The teaching staff is working from home, as allowed by the administration.
“They will be required to be available roughly from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Worrell said.
Some teachers have used social media to communicate to their students. Hamlow Elementary teacher Melissa Kasuske posted a recorded announcement on the school’s Facebook page Monday morning from her “home office” and she created a special page called “Reading Rocks with Mrs. Kasuske to stay connected with families.
District 145 support staff is still being paid, although not all are working, according to the superintendent.
“Some of them are working now and some are not,” Worrell said. “We are still working through these issues.”
The administration is also determining whether or not work will be graded during the closure and how credits will be assigned.
The closure has put the brakes on the spring semester in more ways than one. All sports and activities like speech have been sidelined by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA). Similarly, state contests for FFA, FCCLA, FBLA and other groups have been cancelled. Waverly High School’s spring musical was supposed to be staged last Friday and Saturday. Instead, the stage was dark and the auditorium empty.
Worrell said graduation is still on the calendar. Prom was set for April 4, but may be rescheduled.
We will work to do all we can to reschedule Prom and our graduation date has not changed at this time.
The district began providing daily food for all students on Monday. The food service staff is at Eagle Elementary School and Waverly Intermediate School each day to hand out a lunch for that day and a breakfast for the next morning, Worrell said.
On the school district website, there are a number of links to resources to help students deal with the closure.
The City of Waverly is also operating in a different manner during the pandemic. On March 18, the city offices, recreational facilities, ballfields, playgrounds and restrooms were closed to the public.
“It is imperative at this critical point in time concerning humanity, that all of us do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Mike Werner. “As human beings our first question to ourselves should be ‘what can I do to help?’ This is a time when we must be more concerned about the other guy than ourselves. As such, we much all do our very best concerning simple straight forward actions that will slow the spread.”
City services will still be provided, including water, wastewater fire and emergency management. City business such as paying utility bills can be done online, by phone, through the mail or by using the drop box. In-person meetings will be done by appointment only.
In the surrounding communities, many village offices and public libraries have also closed, including Greenwood and Ceresco.
Village offices in smaller towns are rarely open during the day anyway, so many have not altered their practices. Such is the case in Valparaiso, according to Village Clerk Cheryl Rieck.
“Nobody really goes to the village office,” she said. “We’re not there every day.”
The Village of Eagle not only closed its office, but also suspended recycling services due to the pandemic.
The restaurants and bars in Waverly have been forced to alter operations because of the coronavirus. The state limited the number of patrons at these establishments to 10, including staff. Many have opted to continue service by takeout, carry out, curbside pick up or delivery.
Community events like the Easter egg hunt, originally scheduled for March 29, have also been cancelled.