Due to the growing concern of the coronavirus, many places locally and nationally, especially public schools and college campuses, have shut their doors for a couple of weeks to hopefully slow down the spread of the virus.

Franklin County and Bedford County schools are no exception.

On Friday, a day after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, he ordered all public K-12 schools to close until March 27 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19.

The virus has infected dozens of people in Virginia and has killed a few people in the state.

There has been concern for children who depend on school lunches as their source of food; however, lots of public schools, including local ones, are still offering students meals.

As of Tuesday, all Franklin County elementary schools started offering drive-thru pickups of breakfast and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Bedford County public schools will provide “Grab-N-Go” meals starting at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at locations including Goodview Elementary School, Huddleston Elementary School and Staunton River Middle School.

It’s not just school closings that have put local residents in shock. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced Friday that it has postponed all spring sports for two weeks. This has left a lot of athletes who have put long hours in the winter workouts preparing for the spring season now questioning if they will even have a season to return to.

Although there haven’t been any confirmed coronavirus cases in the local area as of Monday, some people aren’t taking chances.

Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that it has postponed upcoming events, followed by a similar announcement Saturday by the Franklin County YMCA, which has a Smith Mountain Lake location.

On Sunday, Northam banned public gatherings of more than 100 people.

The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office stated Monday that it is temporarily suspending fingerprinting services through the month of March, and the Westlake Library closed its doors as of Monday.

All Virginia jails suspended offender intake from local jails for 30 days, cancelled all offender visitation until further notice, and will not allow volunteers allowed to enter correctional facilities.

Also, local circuit and district courts were affected as all “non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings” were suspended for 21 days minus some exceptions.

It has yet to be determined how effective shutting the doors of school, meetings and businesses will have on slowing down the virus, or how long the doors to those venues will be closed.

Northam has stated that he hopes closing the doors of public schools will not have a major disruption on academics, according to reports. 

Businesses also have noted that while they are left with the tough choice to close their doors, they hope that they won’t be closed for long.

To ease the impact that residents are facing, Southside Electric Cooperative CEO & President Jeff Edwards announced that the company is waiving service disconnects and penalty fees for their residential member-owners.

See more news about how the coronavirus is affecting the area in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view the full article in the e-edition version.

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