COVID-19 Impacts: Mayor Getzschman, FPS Superintendent Shepard, Fremont Chamber Share Updates

FREMONT – Mayor Scott Getzschman, Mark Shepard from Fremont Public Schools and Tara Lea from the Fremont Chamber stopped in this morning to give us an update on school services, City plans and the business community as each responds to the COVID-19 situation.

Children’s Meals: The USDA has opened up the “summer feeding” program to allow the school system’s nutrition services program to help feed children who rely on access to school breakfast and lunches.

The Fremont Public School system is on spring break right now, but administrators are actively planning for some kind of meal distribution program. “What we anticipate is coming off of spring break, we’ll have a program similar to Lincoln Public Schools, who is not on spring break this week, or Westside Public Schools. Westside went to a weekly, kind of grab and go/backpack program,” said Mark Shepard, FPS Superintendent. “Lincoln Public has a daily feeding.”

The meal program will be open to all children, age 1 to 18 years of age. No IDs or proof of eligibility for free and reduced lunches will be required. Guidelines do stipulate that children be present, say in the car, to receive the meals; parent pick-up for multiple children at home will not be available.

More information about the meal program will be forthcoming as details are finalized.

What does “indefinitely” mean with respect to school closures? “It doesn’t mean forever,” said Shepard. “We’ll be back in school at some point. We’re going to try to update people every Thursday, for the following week, so that they can plan.”

Chamber: Tara Lea at the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce encourages small businesses to reach out to the Chamber for information and assistance. “Obviously this is going to be a very, very challenging time for them. We’re there as a source for [small businesses.] We’re also going to get together on some Zoom calls per industry, so we can get [for example] the manufacturers on the call and say, ‘okay what are you doing? What’s your plan?’ just to get some fresh ideas.”

City services: Mayor Getzschman reiterated the fluidity of the situation, with guidance, rules, and responses changing on an hourly basis at times. “Yesterday, the guidance was no more than 50 to be able to congregate in one location. Today it’s 10. That’s a huge blow to many businesses, and it’s a very difficult situation for all of us to navigate. The citizens of Fremont need to support those businesses however we can,” Getzschman said. “There’s gonna be folks that aren’t going to have jobs because of this.”

The City will continue to keep the Keene Memorial Library closed, along with the senior center, and is currently in the process of identifying essential personnel for City services. “Who’s going to be in place? Who’s going to work from home? We have to make sure the power comes on, that the toilet flushes, that you have water coming out of your faucets, and that it’s all safe,” said Getzschman.

All businesses in the area should be identifying their own essential staff & duties, and have a plan in place in case non-essential business is shutdown or limited, as has happened in other cities across the US.

“It’s going to be challenging. Everybody needs to have patience. Hopefully, as Mark and Tara said, it’s only going to be a couple weeks,” said Mayor Getzschman. “There are people saying, ‘it’s not here, Fremont has no cases,’ but what they don’t understand is that we’re learning from what’s happened in the last month, in other countries. If you don’t take the steps we’re taking right now… we don’t want to repeat what they’re doing. We want this to end as quickly as possible. It’s not good for my business – it’s not good for anybody’s business. The hardship we’re going to take now, will hopefully shorten the amount of time we have to spend under this [situation.]”

You can listen to the complete interview on our Podcast page.