The Town of Yorktown and its two school districts are taking strong steps to fight the potential spread of the coronavirus.
On Friday, the Yorktown Town Board passed a resolution declaring a State of Emergency in the town from March 13 to April 12 after it was revealed a Yorktown resident was diagnosed with COVID-19.
A day earlier at a press conference at Yorktown Town Hall, Supervisor Matt Slater was joined by Lakeland School Superintendent Dr. George Stone and Yorktown School Superintendent Dr. Ron Hattar and other town officials. Spelled out were procedures already in place aimed at curtailing all meetings in town facilities, practicing daily disinfecting programs and postponing regional sports activities.
Numerous town programs have been limited or suspended, including the Nutrition Center and extracurricular activities at the Albert Capellini Community Center. The Nutrition Center serves free lunch daily to seniors over 60 but the center’s staff has incorporated the Meals on Wheels program to deliver meals to those in need.
Yorktown staff working in the building or water departments can only enter homes for inspections or repairs in an emergency situation.
“We are clearly dealing with an unprecedented situation,” said Slater. “Here in Yorktown our building and maintenance staff have been cleaning twice a day, as well as wiping doorknobs handrails and light fixtures four times daily.”
Slater stressed the need to stay connected via social media.
Chief of the Yorktown Police Robert Noble said his department has been getting calls from people concerned with the spread of the virus. “We’re not getting an overabundance of calls and we don’t have a hard count. But the public should know we’re open 24/7, he said, adding daily information was on town and police department FaceBook pages and other social media.
Lakeland School District Superintendent Dr. George Stone encouraged the public to actively communicate; Lakeland is posting information daily on its website and social media. Stone said one parent in Cortlandt tested positive for the coronavirus. “We are awaiting test results from the student who is in quarantine,” he said.
Stone said all schools and buses in the district were being thoroughly disinfected on a daily basis. “We have sanitized and disinfected our buildings from head to toe with industrial sanitizing equipment lent by Yorktown School District. We are expecting large industrial disinfecting machines here Monday to do everything very quickly. As soon as we are ready to come back to school, our schools will be clean.” He added that hand sanitizers were stationed throughout the buildings, in the halls and many are near classrooms.
Stone said arrangements are being worked out with district food services to get meals to children who receive free or reduced lunches.
Yorktown Central School District Superintendent Dr. Ron Hattar said the district started taking proactive steps early January as an influenza precaution. “As COVID-19 came to the forefront, we started daily disinfection of all schools – classrooms, office space and communal spaces,” Hatter said.
Hatter said they’ve worked in handwashing breaks, installed several hand sanitizer stations and have a disinfection schedule for school buses. “It so important to maintain the health and wellness for our 3,400 students and 50 staff members who come together every day. I want to assure everyone we are in constant communication with the county and state departments of health,” he said.
The schedule for spring athletics, generally held outside, is expected to be impacted. “When a school closure is initiated, all activities associated with the school are also cancelled,” Hattar explained. “There will inevitably be an impact as more positive cases [of the virus] emerge in the region and districts will have to call off school and athletic activities.”
Other cancellations include the Yorktown Stage production of The Sound of Music, scheduled for the end of April, the SOAC Basketball’s season finale scheduled for next week is postponed to an undetermined date in April, Maple Weekends at Hilltop Hanover Farm and White Oak Farm on March 21, 22, 28 and 29 are canceled. Hilltop Hanover Farm’s Pancake Breakfasts are canceled. The housing voucher program (Section 8) at the Cappellini center will only accept mailed applications.
David Paganelli, Yorktown Highway Superintendent, said services dealing with sewer, water, refuse will all be allocated as necessary. “We will continue to provide services,” he said.
Sergio Esposito, President of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, encouraged Yorktown residents to patronize local businesses. “We are also monitoring the tax relief incentives that congress will be implementing,” Esposito said.
Slater invited residents to call him directly with questions about COVID-19. (914) 962-5722 x201.
The City of Peekskill and Cortlandt have also cancelled all senior citizen programs.
Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey stated the National Guard would be visiting the city Friday.
“I urge everyone not to panic if you see the National Guard’s vehicles in the City of Peekskill. This is strictly for safety. I will surely keep you all updated throughout the entire day, via social media and our city website,” Rainey stated.
“I encourage families to stay home if you’re sick, continue to sanitize and wash your hands and avoid traveling if possible. Parades and shows at the Paramount Theater will be postponed until further notice. The Youth Bureau, the Kiley Youth Center and the Public library will also be closed until April 14, depending on the spread of the virus. Large gatherings are now prohibited so we ask everyone to be mindful of events you may attend that are not cancelled,” he continued.
–Rick Pezzullo contributed to this article
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/