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More local government meetings move online; libraries extend closures

With a governor’s stay-at-home order in effect until June 10, local governments are continuing to switch their meetings to digital formats.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed an order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise.

In following the governor’s order, and to decrease the chance of spreading the virus, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors announced that its 5 p.m. Wednesday meeting will be the first virtual one for the board.

Residents who wish to observe the meeting may watch it at Albemarle.legistar.com. The livestream is for viewing only and will begin when the meeting starts.

Those who wish to address the board may write a statement through albemarle.legistar.com by clicking on the e-comment tab up to a half-hour prior to the meeting.

To livestream the meeting and make real-time comments, residents are encouraged to log in to the meeting through the Zoom conferencing platform. Zoom information and a speaker signup will be posted on albemarle.org/bos for 24 hours prior to the meeting. Speakers are encouraged to sign up in advance of the meeting.

The county also tweets the board’s actions live on Twitter. Search for the county’s account at @AlbemarleCounty.

The Albemarle County School Board held a virtual meeting last week and has added to its schedule four COVID-19-related virtual meetings.

The meetings begin Thursday and will provide members with updated information on the school division’s COVID-19 management plan and any additional resources needed, as well as instructional support for students over the next two months.

The plan is available at k12albemarle.org/coronavirus. The division is completing its instructional plans for all students.

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 2 p.m. The public can virtually attend through the link at streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/player.htm?xml/schoolboard.xml.

Also added to the School Board’s schedule are virtual meetings on May 7, June 18 and July 16. All begin at 2 p.m.

Community members can address board members on school division issues by email at schoolboard@k12albemarle.org or by postal mail at 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902.

Meanwhile, Greene County Public Schools has announced that all school facilities and the central office will be closed to the public effective immediately. Meals for students will continue to be available Mondays and Thursdays.

UVa Medical Center

On Monday, University of Virginia Medical Center spokesman Eric Swensen said, “We are caring for an increasing number of inpatients with COVID-19. We do continue to have capacity to care for patients. We are as prepared as a health system can be for an influx of patients.”

Swensen declined to say how many coronavirus patients are at the hospital, noting that the number fluctuates throughout the day.

Madison Free Clinic

The Madison Free Clinic has launched a telemedicine program for patients during the pandemic.

The clinic’s homebound patients may check in with their primary provider for follow-up appointments, virtual checkups, to refill prescriptions and other services.

New and renewing patients can learn more by visiting madisonfreeclinic.org/telemedicine. There is no charge for the service.

Library closures

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library is extending its emergency closure until April 24, library officials announced Monday.

In the meantime, library staff has set up a variety of online resources for patrons to use, including ebooks, audiobooks, eLearning and various databases. Temporary virtual cards to access these resources are available at www.jmrl.org.

There are also a variety of virtual storytimes and daily boredom-buster challenges being posted on the library’s social media channels. Staff will host a book club chat at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” at jmrlblog.com.

The library system also is extending its WiFi accessibility to its parking lots for public use and extending the due dates for all materials on hold. The extension will continue for several weeks after re-opening to give people a chance to collect the items.

Sutherland committee

Due to the governor’s order, Albemarle County Public Schools announced Monday that it is suspending the name review committee’s discussion of Sutherland Middle School.

“It’s our hope we will be able to resume our work, including the hosting of two community-wide public meetings, later this summer or in the early fall,” Jasmine Fernández, who is facilitating the work of the school community’s advisory committee, said in a statement. “Right now, our priority is to protect the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families.”

Sutherland’s school name is being reviewed by the committee as part of a division-wide effort reexamining all 14 schools named for individuals. The first school to undergo a community review was Cale Elementary, which on July 1, will become Mountain View Elementary School.

Sutherland’s community advisory committee held its first meeting on March 2. It approved an online survey that sought recommendations from the public on names for their school for the committee’s consideration.

A March 20 public meeting to obtain comment on the names suggested in the survey was postponed in alignment with COVID-19 public health measures.

PVCC veterans sessions

Piedmont Virginia Community College has scheduled online information sessions for military students interested in using their Veterans Administration education benefits.

The Veterans Education and Transition Services sessions are for students interested in signing up for summer or fall classes.

The classes will be held via Zoom from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays between April 1 and April 29.

The classes are free and feature assistance with the application process for admissions and educational benefits, military exceptions for residency requirements, financial aid, career services, disability services and credit for prior learning.

Email Jackie Fisher at jfisher@pvcc.edu for specific instructions for web conferencing.

Proliferation of scams

On Monday, Sentara Health Care officials warned of a COVID-19 testing telephone scam circulating in Virginia Beach in which a caller was telling people that someone close to them had tested positive for the virus.

The caller claimed to be from Sentara and offered to come to the home to perform the test.

“To be clear, this caller has absolutely no association with Sentara. The resident was correctly suspicious, denied the request and contacted Sentara,” corporate officials said in a statement. “If someone tries this tactic, deny the request and hang up. We are heartsick that in the midst of a national health crisis, scammers would use our name to prey on worried people.”

The Central Virginia Better Business Bureau, headquartered in Richmond, warned on Monday that several scams are targeting people working from home during the effort to thwart the coronavirus.

“Going from an office setting to working at home, some may find themselves more vulnerable to tech support scams. Employees may attempt to solve technical issues themselves when confronted with pop-ups and virus alerts,” said Leslie Blackwell, director of public affairs for the BBB.

Blackwell said one person reportedly lost about $250 after a pop-up window appeared on the computer screen and the user’s computer froze.

Instructions in the pop-up window said to contact a company claiming to be affiliated with Apple and, after following the directions and paying to have the computer fixed, the tech support company disappeared.

“Another concern for employees transitioning to a work-from-home environment is business email compromise scams,” Blackwell said. “Scammers impersonate emails that appear to come directly from the boss. These fraudulent emails are often used to request payments to vendors via wire transfer.”

Blackwell said the scheme is not new, but that it is being modified to hook the work-at-home crowd.

UVa Board of Visitors

UVa’s Board of Visitors discussed plans related to the university’s response to the pandemic during a 50-minute closed emergency meeting Monday.

Held over conference call, the meeting did not include any public discussion or comments from board members.

UVa, like universities across the country, has shut down campus, sending students home, where they are continuing their classwork online.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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