Local Snapshot on the Impact of COVID-19

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A CONTINUATION ON HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS AFFECTING LOCAL BUSINESSES

Providence Academy

At the beginning of 2021 Dr. Todd Flanders of Providence Academy shared with LocalTies how COVID-19 is impacting this area’s private school. We started by asking for his official title. “Headmaster is the old-fashioned title for my position at Providence,” Dr. Flanders responded. “It means ‘lead teacher,’ which is my favorite way to think about the role! It’s about our common mission to form and educate children and young people.”

Regarding the effect the pandemic has had, Dr. Flanders stated, “What a year! Starting last March! Like all schools, Providence turned to distance learning last spring. I was very proud of our teachers for meeting classes in person, virtually, every day. Late in the spring we decided that for the current year, 2020-2021, we would dedicate ourselves to welcoming students to school five days a week. We knew we could only do the things that were in our control, in light of public policy and guidelines of health authorities. So we acknowledged that there could be things outside our control that might interrupt our plans.

“We have been very pleased that, well into the winter now, we have been able to have the students and teachers here every day. It’s not been easy, and again I’m so proud of faculty and staff members for doing what it takes to serve. Like everybody, we’ve had to make some big adjustments. We social distance. We wear masks. We disinfect classrooms and desks and lunchrooms continuously. We quarantine ‘close contacts,’ those who may have had exposure to someone with COVID-19. After Thanksgiving, for a time, we used an approach in grades 6 through 12 we call ‘in-school hybrid.’ That allowed us to assure 6 feet of spacing between students in the classroom, and send ‘overflow’ students, on a rotating basis, to larger on-site spaces where they could join their class virtually.”

At the beginning of 2021 Dr. Todd Flanders of Providence Academy shared with LocalTies how COVID-19 is impacting this area’s private school. We started by asking for his official title. “Headmaster is the old-fashioned title for my position at Providence,” Dr. Flanders responded. “It means ‘lead teacher,’ which is my favorite way to think about the role! It’s about our common mission to form and educate children and young people.”

Regarding the effect the pandemic has had, Dr. Flanders stated, “What a year! Starting last March! Like all schools, Providence turned to distance learning last spring. I was very proud of our teachers for meeting classes in person, virtually, every day. Late in the spring we decided that for the current year, 2020-2021, we would dedicate ourselves to welcoming students to school five days a week. We knew we could only do the things that were in our control, in light of public policy and guidelines of health authorities. So we acknowledged that there could be things outside our control that might interrupt our plans.

“We have been very pleased that, well into the winter now, we have been able to have the students and teachers here every day. It’s not been easy, and again I’m so proud of faculty and staff members for doing what it takes to serve. Like everybody, we’ve had to make some big adjustments. We social distance. We wear masks. We disinfect classrooms and desks and lunchrooms continuously. We quarantine ‘close contacts,’ those who may have had exposure to someone with COVID-19. After Thanksgiving, for a time, we used an approach in grades 6 through 12 we call ‘in-school hybrid.’ That allowed us to assure 6 feet of spacing between students in the classroom, and send ‘overflow’ students, on a rotating basis, to larger on-site spaces where they could join their class virtually.”

“Our school community’s experience with cases of COVID-19 never suggested to us that the in-school model posed a significant risk to students or employees. There’s an element of courage to this commitment on the part of everyone here. And I think our experience has borne out the wisdom of our commitment.”

As with public schools, Providence Academy has also faced never before seen challenges this past year. “Quelling fears, instilling courage, and assessing data and potential risks with cool heads,” Dr. Flanders explained. “The priority of serving children is so high, and public levels of fear have been so great, that navigating with our approach has demanded much of all of us.

“Also, we’ve had challenges of mastering technologies that allow us to interactively teach everybody every day. Every classroom Prek-12 is available to students virtually, every period of the day. This has allowed students with any illnesses or special family sensitivities to COVID, or needing to quarantine, the opportunity to be ‘present’ every day. No doubt these technologies will provide us much educational flexibility going forward.”

Have there been any upsides? “Yes! Students tell us how important it is to be together! It is: for mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. And there is vocational pride in the faculty and staff in putting children above self. We have a great sense of the power and purpose of our common mission.”

In closing, Dr. Flanders shared, “We also have been delighted by many new families who have joined us this year. They rightly sensed that our commitment to how we serve this year says a lot about the reasons why we serve.”

Rene Calle of Peg’s Countryside Cafe

Peg’s Countryside Cafe

Rene Calle acquired Peg’s Countryside Cafe not long before COVID-19 hit the country. Prior to taking it over, Calle was head chef of the cafe and had been excited to enable former owner Peg Rasmussen to retire. What he hadn’t anticipated was the challenge of running the business throughout a pandemic. The cafe suffered a tremendous loss, “The impact we are suffering is big considering we lost between 75-80% of our sales,” Calle shared. “The challenge is to stay in business and we are working hard to keep this traditional restaurant open for more memories to celebrate.”

As with many restaurants, Peg’s Countryside Cafe was forced to change in order to remain viable. “Something unexpected,” Calle added, “was that we were able to serve outside during the summer time which gave us the idea to open a real patio in the future.” Great news and something to look forward to for the cafe’s clientele. “The silver lining is the hope that the vaccine helps and will be available to everyone,” Calle commented. “We look forward to all going back to normal life again.”

President and CEO Phillip Kopischke

SharePoint Credit Union

“COVID pushed us but it was a good push.” President and CEO Phillip Kopischke responded when asked how COVID-19 has impacted SharePoint Credit Union. “We were lucky, a year ago we brought in a state-of-the-art online and mobile platform. With COVID we had to streamline our processes faster. For the first part of the pandemic we took loan applications and actually re-keyed them because we didn’t have the automation. Now today the application information fills right into our loan origination system so we can make a quick decision and get the document right back out to the member for signature. We had to get more efficient in how we processed loans if we were going to deliver the service level our members needed during this difficult time. Understandably so, our members didn’t want to come into the credit union during this time. We’ve made it really easy and simple to sit at home or anywhere with a mobile phone, fill out an application, send it to us electronically and we take it from there.

“We hit it just right,” Kopischke shared. “We increased our online mobile usage, 1,400 more people today are using it than a year ago at this time. We need to be adaptable and flexible for our members and be where they are.”

How has the pandemic impacted SharePoint Credit Union’s business? “Our main concern is keeping members and our employees safe,” Kopischke responded. “We’ve had to adjust our hours but still be accessible so we increased our telephone, or what we call our ebranch, banking hours. During the periods of lockdown we were open by appointment only. We put up plexiglass with the proper staff, making sure we’re all safe when we’re in there working together. It’s hard with this virus when people can carry it but appear healthy. In the times when we couldn’t open the lobby we still had our drive through open, our Medina location was a star in that regard.

Has there been anything positive that has come from COVID-19? “People helping people, our members accepted how to interact with us throughout the pandemic was our silver lining. We have had very few complaints on how we’ve had to operate, people understand, especially in light of how restaurants and health clubs have had to close. We have 350 small business members at Sharepoint, we did 120 PPP (Payroll Protection Program) loans. ⅓ of our businesses took PPP through us, it was a great way to support and help them.”

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