CALLAHAN, Fla. – Nassau County residents and businesses were able to learn more about preparations for hurricane season and the end of the school year during an information fair Wednesday on the COVID-19 recovery process.
The first of two recovery information fairs took place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Northeast Florida Fairgrounds on U.S. 1 in Callahan. About a dozen county organizations were on hand to answer residents’ questions as Florida begins phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan.
A big topic was how Nassau County Emergency Management is preparing for hurricane season, which begins June 1, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Emergency Management Director Greg Foster said his team is currently rethinking how to provide shelter for evacuees without spreading the disease.
“We are walking through the process of planning for sheltering. Right now, obviously, sheltering is going to be a challenge because of COVID-19. It will still be here during hurricane season, so we’re looking at what the footprints are going to be. We’re obviously going to have to increase the amount of space each person has, so that we’re going to have social distancing during sheltering," Foster said.
He said people need to have a hurricane plan in place now, especially those who live in evacuation zone.
“Having a plan of maybe not relying on the shelters, but having hotel reservations for family members in the area that they would be able to go stay with it or not in an evacuation zone," Foster said.
Jason Miller, the disaster preparedness planner with the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County, oversees the county’s special needs shelters, which are reserved for people with medical needs. This year, he said, they’ll increase distance between patients from 60-100 square feet to 80-120 square feet and conduct regular health screenings.
“We will do temperature screenings, along with risk assessments that are being conducted on entering. And even in line for special needs sheltering if you are registering for it, we will have social distancing. So will have spots set up about 6 to 8 feet apart," Miller said.
The health department is also working to secure a second shelter location for people showing upper respiratory symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past.
Health officials are also encouraging people to include personal protective equipment, such as masks and hand sanitizer, in this year’s hurricane kits and to bring your own if you do have to leave home.
Dr. Kathy Burns, superintendent of the Nassau County Schools District, was also at Wednesday’s recovery fair, handing out flyers with information and walking parents what they need know to for the coming weeks as this school year wraps up.
The flyers contained direct school contact information and answers to frequently asked questions, such as summer school.
“Our summer school will be a virtual summer school and that information is being shared also. Our summer school will be online but there will be a lot of other resources coming out in the next couple days,” Burns said.
The booth also had information about kindergarten registration, which was pushed back.
In addition, Burns talked about how parents will be able to return online learning equipment.
“We have a process set up at every school and we have a check-in time, but they will come to the school during that time to check in their devices and do anything they need to do for the end of the year, whether it’s checking in their other books or other things that they have, clearing their lockers if they are in high school," Burns said. “So we have a time schedule for them to come to the school to do that.”
The school district has been providing breakfasts and lunches for students at five locations, though that’ll end for this school year on May 22. The district is working on putting together a summer meal schedule.
The county’s second recovery information fair will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Yulee Middle School on Miner Road.
Below is the full list of participating organizations:
Nassau County Clerk of the Courts
- Introduction of Green Light, a program concerning payment of fines, fees or court costs.
Nassau County School District
- Kindergarten registration
- End of year check-in procedures for technology, etc.
- Summer school
- School contact information for each location
- Bus driver recruitment
Nassau County Property Appraiser
Assisting with late-filing exemptions for:
- First Responders
- Deployed Military
- Religious or Charitable Organizations
Nassau County Supervisor of Elections
- Requests for vote-by-mail ballots
- Updating voter registration
- Updating voter signatures
Florida Department of Health-Nassau County
- Essential Health Services
- Environmental Health permitting
- Vital statistics (birth and death certificates)
- Reopening of clinical services, i.e., dental and family planning services
- Special needs preparation for hurricane season
Nassau County Sheriff’s Office
Nassau County Office of Emergency Management
Information about COVID-19 and upcoming hurricane season:
- Handing out #OneNassau cloth masks and hand sanitizer
- All hazards preparedness guides
Nassau County Board of County Commissioners
Amelia Island Tourist Development Council
Nassau County Road Department
Information and assistance with:
- Daily activities
- Set up site visits to inspect citizen issues
- Create individual work requests
Nassau County Public Library System
- New library cards
- Promote virtual library collections and programs
- Registration for Summer Library Reading program
Nassau County Animal Services
Information about new procedures for:
- Adoption and Fostering
- Animal Control officers
- Barking dog ordinance
The Town of Callahan
The Town of Hilliard