With so much going on around town. Catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, April 3. We’ve made it 10 days. (I thought it was three weeks, then I did the math.) Here’s the latest on the coronavirus, including the first week of online learning, a new batch of tests for Chester Hospital – calling it a “game changer” – and WCU extends its closure of in-person classes through the summer. Plus, how to give back and Levante gives us a reason to celebrate. It’s not all cloudy (or cumbersome.) Let’s get started.
Settling into a new norm. This is your COVID-19 update:
Chester County: Ten days into state-ordered self isolation, the number of cases in Chester County continues to climb. Chester County now has 202 reported cases, and two deaths attributed to the virus. There are ten cases in the Borough. The stay-at-home order has been extended to April 30 – and, masks are the new must wear accessory of spring.
Can’t get enough? Use the County’s dashboard to track the spread in our area.
The Borough: Borough Council committee meetings will resume next week via WebEx. You can find the dial information for all the meetings on the Borough website.
Also, a reminder on parking – metered spaces in the town center continue to be free until 7 p.m. All other parking regulations, including those spaces overnight, are being enforced. Should you get a ticket, the Borough has secured a “drop box” in the main parking lot that will be used for paying parking tickets. It’s good to see some things never change.
Rather pay online? Here are your step-by-step instructions.
Parks and Rec: West Chester parks remain open for walking, hiking and running, as long a proper distancing is maintained. However, playgrounds, basketball courts and other equipment are closed. Looking for a change of scenery? All state parks remain open to pedestrians (but not the bathrooms.)
Public Works: The Public Works department has been limited to essential operations only. Trash and recycling pick up will continue on its normal schedule. (Yay.) So will yard waste pick up. Just put it out on your normal trash day for now. However, the Borough will not be accepting any drop off items, so if it doesn’t fit in the normal trash collection it will have to wait.
West Chester Business District: Tighter restrictions continue to limit how and if downtown businesses can operate. Businesses that are still operating could use your support. Follow the rules and take a night off from cooking. Find a list of open restaurants here.
“We fully recognize this new online model is not a substitute for our regular instruction.”
-James Scanlon, WCASD Superintendent
West Chester Area School District: Well, we know one thing that won’t be continuing post pandemic… Online learning got off to a bit of a rough start this week. Connectivity issues plagued the school district as it prepared for its first week of new material since schools closed, March 16. Online learning platforms Schoology, SeeSaw and Zoom crashed multiple times and the district’s IT help desk was slammed with calls and emails. The problems were blamed on the sharp increase in usage of the sites across the country.
We also learned this week that school’s will be closed until further notice. This has left all end of the year activities, including graduation, up in the air. The Superintendent has promised to address these issues as we get nearer to these important dates.
West Chester University: West Chester University, which sent shock waves through the community with its decision to cancel classes through the end of the semester, is out ahead again. This week it broke the news to students, faculty and staff that it would be suspending all in-person classes through the summer.
“When we can test in big numbers, that will really change the game.”
-Mike Duncan, President and CEO of Chester County Hospital
Chester County Hospital: This week the Chester County Hospital finally got some good news. According to a report in the Daily Local, they received a large shipment of coronavirus tests that can determine results in just 45 minutes. Before this, it took up to 10 days(!) to get results. The hospital will now be able to test a lot more people and get them isolated or cleared a lot faster.
West Chester Public Library: The West Chester Public Library is closed until further notice under new state orders. During this closure, the library is asking you to keep all checked out materials at home. The drop box can’t handle all the returns. Don’t worry about the due date. Fines are being waived.
“We are strongly encouraging pre-orders for this Saturday.”
-West Chester Growers Market
West Chester Growers Market. Is back this weekend and they are offering a pre-pay option for most vendors to limit contact. Pay online then pick up at the market Saturday between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Feeling the pinch. Restaurants and retailers aren’t the only ones starting to feel the strain of a tightening economy. This week the Daily Local issued a plea to readers:
“As we continue to track the development of the COVID-19 outbreak our dedicated journalists are working around the clock to keep you informed. Please know that these efforts depend on paying subscribers to support our business.”
The Daily Local has made its online COVID-19 coverage available to all residents. Vista Today, Chester County’s business journal, put out a similar call for support this week. Accurate news is critical in a crisis, don’t forget to support those hard working journalists.
This week in the Daily Local you could find stories on how the Chester County Prison is dealing with coronavirus (as three staffer tested positive), what’s next for Uptown Theater, and what the stimulus check means for your taxes.
How to tip. I’ve found lately I am having to adapt common practices to the new environment, and I am not always sure the best way to do it. So I thought if I saw particularly useful advice, I’d share.
One of the things tripping us up as restrictions on using cash has tightened, is tipping. So I am sharing this guidance from Krissy Flynn of Classic Diner on the proper way to tip to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy (and properly paid.)
“Coming from a business owner, yes, cash is always better but these days we don’t like to touch… put it in a zip lock. As for Doordash and GrubHub, the tip and service fee go to them. They also charge the restaurant 30 percent, so the server or cashier whoever is left working in the restaurant preparing your meals doesn’t see a dime. Most restaurants are delivering themselves, I know we are, so if you can go direct and not through a third party is best, but any business is greatly appreciated.”
The warnings. Don’t open that. This week the West Chester police are warning about phishing attacks or fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offering information about the virus. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit CDC.gov directly.
Need a little good news for a change? Check out all these cool ways people are giving back!
Designer masks. West Chester Charlie, the people behind your favorite coasters, have started a mask initiative making CDC masks for the medical workers at CHOP. And I know this is not the point, but aren’t they the coolest masks ever?
West Chester Community Meal Fund. Over the last few weeks several local restaurants have been quietly providing professionally cooked meals to local seniors and families in need. However, this practice is not sustainable given the strain local businesses are facing as well. So the Mayor’s office and the Chester County Community Foundation are partnering on a new charity initiative, raising money to hire local restaurants to provide these meals to seniors in need. One donation, two-times the goodwill. Donate here.
Nursing Home Project. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are making residents stay in their rooms to limit social spread. Little Wonderkin has launched a letter writing/card campaign to help keep residents’ spirits up. (Doubles as an easy art project for bored kids.) See her instagram post for all the details.
Friends Association is accepting donations of food and money, in anticipation of a growing need throughout the community.
After blood drives across the region have been cancelled due to closures, the American Red Cross is reporting a critical need for blood donations. The Blood Donation Center on Gay Street is still open and accepting donations. Call ahead to schedule an appointment.
Virtual tip jar. To help retail/service employees, the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce has set up a Virtual Tip Jar. The “tips” will be distributed to any workers that typically rely on tips – servers, bartenders, aestheticians – and some that don’t – retail workers, to help them through this challenging time. If you’d like to participate, just think how much you’ve saved since being forced to make your own coffee, make your donation here.
Accolades. Cheers to Levente. The West Chester-based brewer was named runner up in the Breweries of Pennsylvania best brewery competition. The March Madness style competition featured 30 of the state’s top breweries. I know you’re disappointed guys, but before losing in the finals to Troegs, they beat out local favorites Victory, Yuengling, Tired Hands and the brackets’ top seed Imprint. I think that is cause for celebration.
Goodbye. To some seriously dedicated educators. Several of West Chester area’s finest announced their retirements at last month’s school board meeting including Ms. DeVault, Spanish teacher at Stetson; Mr. Heisman, gym teacher at East and Stetson, and Ms. McCullough, Second Grade teacher at Fern Hill all with more than a quarter century of service.
See all the educators saying goodbye: Judy Czop, Family Consumer Science Teacher at Rustin, Theresa DeVault, Spanish Teacher at Stetson, Jonathan Heisman, Physical Education/Health Teacher at East/Stetson, Jill Laverty, Math Teacher at Stetson, Angela McCullough, Second Grade Teacher at Fern Hill, Ronald Nagy, Science Teacher at Henderson.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We are going to take up the call to give blood. Not entirely sure how this will work, but we are going to start by calling the blood center and seeing how it goes.
I’m also thinking of taking Saloon 151’s 30 Day Drink Challenge. Everyday they are sharing step-by-step recipes and tips for making classic drinks at home. I’ve always thought it’d be cool to know how to make a proper drink.
Also, tonight, 7 p.m., Uptown! is hosting a Facebook Live performance by Jazz artist V. Shayne Frederick. Maybe some background music for that cocktail?
Whatever you’re doing, stay healthy, safe (and properly distanced) out there.
If you are new here, follow along for the latest from West Chester.
If you are new here, follow along for the latest from West Chester.