Coronavirus causes abrupt changes to life in Oxford

The story of the coronavirus outbreak is evolving as fast as the virus is spreading.

Even in a town such as Oxford, where no cases have been confirmed, the virus is changing life in unprecedented ways. 

Oxford Mayor Mike Smith and Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene will be livestreaming a video conference updating the city’s response to the virus at 11 a.m. Friday, March 13. The conference can be watched on the city’s website.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that all K-through-12 schools in the state will close for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16. That followed an announcement on Tuesday afternoon that all state universities in Ohio, including Miami, would immediately stop face-to-face classes and revert to online-only instruction. 

The university announced that the online-only instruction will continue until at least April 12, two weeks beyond the end of spring break.

Talawanda City Schools canceled classes for Friday and are making accommodations for students to start remote online learning next week, according to Holli Morrish, director of communications for the district. Talawanda has a small number of students who may not have access to the resources necessary to complete the online classes. Morrish said the school will be working with those families individually to work out solutions.

“Each grade level team has been working together to design that (the online programs),” Morrish said.

Rumors that a family member of a Talawanda student had tested positive for the virus are not true, Morrish said. As of Thursday, no cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in the school district or in Butler County, according to the Butler County Health Department. Morrish said, however,  a family member of a Talawanda student is being tested for the virus.

 “We gave that information to the Butler County Health Department, and they say we’re good,” Morrish said. 

Talawanda will have no school on Friday, March 13, and also will be off from school Monday and Tuesday. Teachers will have a professional development day Monday, where Morrish said they will prepare for their online curriculum. Online classes will begin Wednesday. The following week of March 23, Talawanda will be on spring break. After spring break, the district will resume online distance learning.

“Unless we get new direction from the governor, we will be returning to school April 6,” Morrish said.

A fifth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ohio Thursday, with 52 persons under investigation, according to the governor’s office. Thirty tests in Ohio have been confirmed negative, which means those people did not have the virus.

“We have to do everything we can to avoid an interruption,” said DeWine at the press conference Thursday. Each school district will need to decide after the three weeks whether to further cancel classes or to continue remote learning.

The governor also signed an order banning the gathering of 100 or more people in Ohio. “In an attempt to make sure everyone understands there cannot be gatherings, we cannot be in close proximity to each other,” said DeWine.

A mass gathering can be defined as any event that brings together more than 100 people like auditoriums, stadiums, large conferences rooms, festivals, parades, fairs and theaters that are indoor or outside.

However, this order excludes airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities and malls which allow for modes of transportation. The order also does not include grocery stores, businesses and schools. Athletic events that are held without spectators may take place, although many were canceled Thursday. The media is also excluded from the order. Religious gatherings such as funerals or weddings are also excluded.

DeWine said he does not anticipate that police will be needed to enforce the ordinance, but can be if necessary.

In sports, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have canceled games until further notice because of the virus. The NCAA has canceled all remaining winter and spring championships, including March Madness. Major League Baseball also announced it canceled spring training and is pushing the opening day of its season, originally set for March 26, back at least two weeks.

The Mid-American Conference, which includes Miami, announced Thursday that is has “canceled regular season and championship competition, and non-traditional season competition, for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.” The conference also canceled all practices, off-campus recruiting trips and on-campus recruiting visits until further notice. The Ohio High School Athletic Association also announced that is has postponed all winter season games and tournaments indefinitely.

The virus also is having an impact on the Ohio Primary, scheduled for Tuesday, March 17. 

The Butler County Board of Elections has relocated several polling locations in Fairfield and Monroe that had been located in senior citizen facilities, to protect the residents of those facilities. The board also extended early voting hours. The hours will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 13; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 14; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 16.