Virus Outbreak Prompts Cancellations, Changes

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson ordered the closure of Arkansas schools effective Tuesday, March 17, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Monday was optional for the state's districts, although Piggott, Rector and Marmaduke were among those choosing to close for the entire week. The week of March 23 to 27, is spring break for the entire state, insuring at least two weeks of no classes.

In response school districts have turned to the AMI (Alternative Method of Instruction) program which was originally set-up to deal with weather closures. Under the plan, each district may receive credit for up to 10 days of closure as long as student's complete the prearranged class work. In preparation, packets were sent home with students late last week.

To address the issue of those who receive free and reduced meals, both the Rector and Piggott district will be serving meals at no charge to those 18 and under. The breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. with lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is no charge for the meals, and all those 18 and under will be served on weekdays.

The Rector distribution will be held in the cafetorium, while the pickup for Piggott will be at the rear of the the elementary school. Piggott students unable to pickup food may call 870 598-4015 to arrange delivery. Rector will also be doing their usual backpack effort on Thursday during the lunch serving time.

During Tuesday night's school board meeting, administrators also reported they would be closing both campuses to all but essential personnel until further notice.

Administration with both districts have also promised to provide updates as needed.

Last week the Arkansas Activities Association suspended all spring sports seasons for the time being, and on Monday they instituted a dead period through March 30. It prohibits any interaction with players for the next two weeks, and covers all practice, instruction, weight lifting, tryouts travel and other activities. The prohibition includes coaches, teachers and volunteer coaches and went into affect on Tuesday, March 17.

City Offices Address Virus Threat

Monday afternoon the City of Piggott announced the closure of all public buildings, and the postponement of the upcoming city council meeting. As for the City of Rector, they've ordered all city parks closed for the time being, and may address other changes in the days to come. Included are Memorial Park, the Rector Sports Complex, Veterans Park and the Downtown Park along with all public playgrounds.

The Piggott closures include city hall, the community center, the baseball park complex at Independence Park and all other city buildings. As of Tuesday they were closed to the public until further notice, although city workers will continue to be on the job and departments will remain open.

All public city meetings, including Thursday night's Piggott City Council meeting, were postponed.

In a news release, the City of Piggott noted. the public will be able to contact all departments by phone and e-mail.

The City of Piggott is requesting that residents and other individuals seeking to attend to City-related business do so remotely when possible, online, by phone or through the mail, or delay any business that requires in-person interaction with City of Piggott employees until a future date.

Individuals encountering urgent, time-sensitive situations requiring the attention of City of Piggott staff are advised to contact the appropriate department by phone and your matter will be handled promptly and accordingly.”

The Piggott PD may be reached at 870 598-2295; city hall at 870 598-3791 and MLWS at 870 598-3243 or by email at billing@cityofpiggott.org

Meanwhile, its business as usual for the time being in Rector as their city hall and offices will remain open for the foreseeable future. They may be reached at 870 595-3035.

At Monday night's Clay County Quorum Court meeting Judge Mike Patterson indicated both of the courthouses would remain open for the time being, unless orders are received from Little Rock. He noted the absence of court would mean fewer people in the building, allowing others the chance to access services as needed.

District Court

As mentioned above, in yet another response to the spread of COVID-19, Clay County District Court is suspending all non-essential court proceedings. This includes traffic, misdemeanor and fine reviews.

Court officials reported the sessions slated for Tuesday, March 17, in Rector and Piggott have been postponed until Tuesday, April 7. The Rector session will be held at 9 a.m. on that date, with the Piggott session slated for noon. The scheduled district court session in Corning, set for March 24, will now be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 14.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary,” a spokesperson explained. “We ask that if you have a case to be heard during these times, that you monitor the situation for changes in scheduling as well.”

Those wanting additional information may call the district court clerk's office in Piggott at 870 598-2265 or the office in Corning at 870 857-0115.

ASU Heritage Sites

Additional closings are being announced almost hourly, as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. The most recent are the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites, which include Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott. Here is the release from ASU from Tuesday afternoon----

Effective Wednesday, March 18, Arkansas State University Heritage Sites will not be open for visitors and tour groups throughout the rest of March and during April

The university made the decision in response to federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations designed to reduce or eliminate the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, according to Dr. Adam Long, Heritage Sites director.

"We believe this precautionary action is in the best interest of both the visitors who tour the sites and the facility staffs," Long added.

The A-State Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center at Piggott; Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home at Dyess; Lakeport Plantation at Lakeport; Southern Tenant Farmers Museum at Tyronza; and the Historic V.C. Kays House on the Jonesboro campus.

The Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Office develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta.

Further schedule changes that may be necessitated by new circumstances will be announced as needed.

Other cancellations and postponements are expected, and current information will be posted to our website and Facebook page as it is received.

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