Editor’s note: This developing story will be updated as additional information becomes available.
City and school officials in Farmington and Farmington Hills are relying on information and recommendations from county, state, and federal agencies as they navigate a response to coronavirus COVID-19.
As of late Thursday afternoon, Farmington Public Schools (FPS) had canceled all large group activities, and the City of Farmington Hills closed its after-school program for middle school students. A 25th anniversary celebration for the program slated Friday has been postponed to a later date.
FPS Supt. Dr. Bob Herrera said Oakland County superintendents will hold a conference call on Friday to discuss all of their options, in light of Ann Arbor Public Schools and other districts’ decisions to close.
As of Thursday evening, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan, including one person in Oakland County. According to county officials, that person had traveled internationally and had “low to no exposure” to the general public.
While the health risk is considered low, the county’s Health Division is widely sharing information about prevention and has collected current information on its website for healthcare providers, business owners, schools and child care providers, food service workers, first responders, and others.
‘Taking it as it comes’
Farmington City Manager David Murphy said officials are taking their cues from county and state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also, he said, the Public Safety Department has received training in responding to viral illnesses.
“We are putting something up on our website to remind people there are things they can do online from their home computer,” he said. “They don’t necessarily have to come in (to City Hall) if they’re worried.”
City council meetings will proceed as usual; residents can watch them online, either live or archived. Non-essential meetings, including the parking advisory and historical commission March meetings, have been canceled, as have City Hall weddings and solicitor license applications.
Residents can now pay their taxes and water bills online, and download a range of forms and information. Learn more at farmgov.com.
City Hall janitors are also wiping down high-touch surfaces more often, and staff members who handle human resource issues are looking at what to do if employees become ill with the virus, Murphy said.
“We’re just kind of taking it as it comes,” he added.
Farmington Hills has used its Facebook page to share information from Oakland County Health Division on its website, and as early as February 20, provided information about the virus from the city’s Fire Department. With the exception of the after-school program, no announcements have been made about cancelling events or activities.
FPS classes continue
Farmington Public Schools, on the other hand, canceled all large group activities, from parent-teacher conferences to plays and concerts, and any facility rentals or community meetings, until further notice. In a letter to the school community, Herrera wrote that After School Youth Centers will be closed beginning March 13. YMCA before and after school care will continue.
While some colleges and universities have closed, the state has not yet recommended closing K-12 schools.
“However, we have developed a contingency plan for remote learning in the event of a school closure,” he said. “As always, parents have the final decision on whether or not to send their children to school. Please know that we are considering all aspects of accessibility as part of the remote learning plan. If a school closure becomes necessary, we are also exploring alternatives for meal distribution.”
The district has also ramped up effort to deep-clean and disinfect buildings. Learn more about the FPS COVID-19 response: FARMINGTON SCHOOLS LAYS OUT CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Chamber health fair canceled
The Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday postponed an event, but most activities will go on as planned, Director Connor Osborn said.
“We are postponing our Health and Wellness Expo, as that is a well-attended event,” he said. “With our ribbon cuttings and networking groups, there are not as many attendees.”
Osborn said the Chamber is advising everyone to be smart and stay home if they’re under the weather, and to avoid hand-shaking. “We’re also looking for alternative ways to replace that.”