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Coronavirus pandemic: Florida schools to remain closed through May 1, FLDOE recommends to Northeast Florida school districts

NORTHEAST FLORIDA, SOUTHEAST GEORGIA — More than 5,000 people in Florida and 2,600 people in Georgia have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia as schools, businesses and public events are closed or canceled.

Action News Jax has the very latest information on Florida cases of the coronavirus LIVE on FOX30 and CBS47. Click here to watch.

Florida schools to remain closed through May 1, FLDOE telling Northeast Florida school districts

March 30, 6:30 p.m.: Several Northeast Florida school districts have said that the Florida Department of Education has told them that school campuses will remain closed through May 1.

Clay County District Schools said in a message on Twitter, “EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURES: Please be advised that school districts have received information from the Florida Department of Education that school closures have been extended through Friday, May 1st. Rest assured that we stand prepared to continue supporting students’ learning during this closure.”

Columbia County School District Superintendent Alex L. Carswell, Jr. said in a tweet, “The FLDOE has extended the school closure through at least May 1st. We will continue to update you as we hear more. Thanks for a GREAT first day. We live in an awesome community.”

Duval County Public Schools announces dinner available for students

March 30, 5:52 p.m.: There will be 71 schools in Duval County that will have dinner available for pickup.

Here is the information from DCPS:

  • “Select locations serving dinner – Dinner is now available to be picked up at select school locations. View here to check out the 71 participating schools. Remember that breakfast and lunch are still available at all school locations. Pickup times for all meals are 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. View menus and more information here.”
  • “Explore award-winning student artwork from home – Today, the district unveiled the Duval HomeRoom Gallery of Fine Art. The virtual art gallery allows the community to explore award-winning student artwork that takes on themes from human trafficking to racial prejudice and deforestation. Read more about the virtual showcase here.”
  • "Chalk…Walk…Inspire – This Thursday and Friday, the school community is invited to participate in the Duval HomeRoom’s “Chalk Your Walk.” All that’s needed is chalk, a sidewalk and a kind message. Read more here."
  • “Self-isolation can’t silence the song of these DA students – Douglas Anderson School of the Arts musical theater students have created a video “love letter” to their passion for performing. Although they are apart during this time of isolation, their voices are one again in perfect harmony, as they sing about the joyous time when they will be together again. Click here to watch their inspiring rendition of “From Now On” from the Greatest Showman.”

Duval County Supervisor of Elections announced a poll worker tested positive for COVID-19

March 30, 5:52 p.m.: The Duval County Supervisor of Elections announced that a poll worker, who worked on election day (March 17), tested positive for the coronavirus.

Here is the announcement sent out by the Duval County Supervisor of Elections:

"The Duval County Supervisor of Elections was notified today by a poll worker that they have been positively diagnosed with coronavirus. This individual worked Election Day (March 17, 2020) at Precinct 608 which is located at Freedom Christian Fellowship Church at 3423 Loretto Rd. The individual started experiencing symptoms six days after working at this polling site. The poll worker was tested for the virus on March 27th and received a positive test result on March 30th.

"All staff as well as other poll workers who were at this location are being notified of the situation and are advised to take appropriate steps. By way of this advisory, the 360 voters who went to this location on March 17th are notified that they should also take appropriate steps and seek the counsel of a medical advisor. These voters will also be contacted by mail or by phone in the coming days.

"If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing, please self-isolate and contact a medical provider immediately.

“The name of the worker diagnosed with the virus will not be disclosed due to privacy concerns.”

Brantley Co. officials warn of COVID-19 exposure at area churches

March 30, 4 p.m. Brantley County Emergency Management Agency announced that the Department of Public Health said that anyone who attended Piney Grove Freewill Baptist Church in Blackshear, Georgia or Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Patterson, George may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

For general information on COVID-19, please call (844) 442-2681 or visit www.dph.georgia.gov and www.sehdph.org/covid-19.

DCF implements six-month benefits recertification extension

March 30, 2 p.m.: The Florida Department of Children and Families announced that it is now offering a six-month benefits recertification extension for those parents or guardians who were originally scheduled to recertify in April or May.

Clay County Emergency Management to rope off playground equipment, playing fields

March 30, 1 p.m.: Clay County Emergency Management gave an update at 1 p.m. The county announced that all playground equipment and playing fields will be roped off as a precaution against COVID-19 as of sundown Monday. Parks will remain open.

Student, employee at FSCJ test positive for COVID-19

March 30, 12:18 p.m.: A student and an employee of the Florida State College of Jacksonville tested positive for COVID-19, according to the the college.

FSCJ said the employee works on its south campus and has not been on campus since March 6.

The student attended a class at the Kent Campus and has not been on campus since March 3.

“In an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to students and staff that may have been in close contact with these individuals,” FSCJ said.

Jacksonville mayor signs executive order regarding hotels

March 30, 12 p.m.: Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville announced in a virtual news conference he has signed an executive order that prohibits all hotels, motels and commercial lodging establishments from accepting or extending reservations for any person other than essential lodgers effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 31.

Florida governor to sign order allowing retired personnel to help during coronavirus pandemic

March 30, 10:18 a.m.: Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will sign an order to allow retired law enforcement and medical professionals to help in fight against COVID-19.

Additional lanes open at LOT J testing site

March 30, 9:41 a.m.: There are long lines at the LOT J testing site near TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

Additional lanes have been opened because of the increase in traffic. The city is reminding people who would like to get tested to remain in their cars at all times.

Testing is available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while testing supplies last.

Florida Power & Light plan to lower bill amid coronavirus pandemic

March 30, 9:06 a.m.: Those who use Florida Power & Light may see a change to their bills. The company announced today it plans to issue a one-time residential bill decrease of nearly 25% beginning May 1, as a result of lower fuel costs.

This is pending the approval of the Florida Public Service Commission.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve worked hard to be among the lowest bill in all of America and Florida, but right now every dollar counts. So, what we’re doing is trying to get that money back into customers’ pockets so they can use it for whatever they need,” said Eric Silagy, FPL President and CEO.

Online learning begins for St. Johns, Nassau & Putnam school districts

March 30, 7 a.m.: Starting today, all public school students in St. Johns, Nassau and Putnam county school districts will begin online classes.

Currently, all Florida public and private school buildings are closed through April 15.

The St. Johns County School District has created Schoology for its virtual learning.

The Putnam County school district website has a breakdown of its online learning plans by grade level here.

Visit the Nassau County school district website for details on it online learning by clicking here.

Checkpoints in place at Florida-Georgia border

March 30, 5:12 a.m.: The Florida Department of Transportation has put up checkpoints for drivers entering from Georgia on I-95. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued the checkpoints to prevent drivers coming from coronavirus hot spots from entering Florida. Camden County leaders have also put up checkpoint to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia.

As of 6:55 a.m. Monday, the Florida Highway Patrol said there aren’t any backups at the state line on I-10.