North Ogden Republican caucus 2016

The Weber County Republican Party will postpone caucuses planned for March 24, 2020, in light of coronavirus concerns while the Weber County Democratic Party plans to handle its caucus, also set for March 24, online or via text messaging. This file photo shows attendees at a Republican caucus at North Ogden Junior High School on March 22, 2016. Activities across Weber County and beyond have been disrupted due to efforts to stymie the spread of coronavirus.

Weber County library officials suggest older library users consider materials that are digital and downloadable.

The Weber County Democratic Party plans to hold its March 24 caucuses virtually — online and via text messaging. County Republicans are putting off their caucus, scheduled for the same date, and will instead use delegates selected in 2018, at least for now. Caucuses serve to select delegates, party leaders tabbed with picking preferred party candidates for the June 30 primary.

The Weber County Sheriff’s Office has suspended most volunteer and other related programs for inmates at the county jail.

Concern about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has caused cancellations, postponements and more across Weber County, Utah and the country in a bid to stymie its spread. Notably, Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday ordered that classes at public schools across the state be dismissed for two weeks, at least inside actual buildings, though officials are investigating other ways to handle instruction. Likewise, Ogden-Weber Technical College tweeted Saturday that it would be converting starting Wednesday to online and other alternative instruction.

Meanwhile, the Davis County Health Department said Saturday that a second coronavirus case had been identified in the county, while the Utah Department of Health reported that a new coronavirus case had been discovered Summit County.

State health officials called the Summit County case, affecting a man aged somewhere between 18 to 60, the first instance of “community spread” of the disease in Utah, that is, spread of the disease via an unknown source. The Summit County man, who works at a Park City locale, the Spur Bar and Grill, “had no history of travel and no known contact with any person who has been confirmed to have COVID-19,” a health department statement said.

The Davis County Health Department only identified the person affected there as an adult aged between 18 and 60. The person had traveled outside the country and received news on returning of potential contact with someone else infected.

“This person and their family should be commended for doing what is best for the entire community. Because of quick self-quarantine and social distancing actions taken, they ensured this exposure to COVID-19 would not spread further in our community,” said the statement. The person maintained distance from other family members on returning, and once symptoms began to appear, got tested, preventing the spread of the disease.

“Due to these efforts, no close contacts have been identified, no public venues were affected, and there is no risk to other Davis County residents in relation to this case,” the health department said. Another Davis County resident, someone older than 60, was identified on March 6 as having been infected by coronavirus, among a handful of others in Utah.

Here are more details on some of the many postponements, changes, cancellations, advisories and more from Weber County entities given the unfolding situation. This list is hardly exhaustive.

Weber, Ogden schools

Classes in brick-and-mortar structures in Weber County’s two public school systems are off through April 5, two weeks as announced Friday by Herbert plus spring break, scheduled for March 30-April 3 in both districts. But officials in each system are investigating other means to handle instruction in the interim, tentatively starting next Wednesday, and kids aren’t off the hook.

“Next week our teachers will spend Monday and Tuesday preparing for a short-term, on-line delivery of curriculum for students. Teachers will be preparing a modified home learning experience — one that permits students to continue engaging in meaningful study from home,” Weber School District Superintendent Jeff Stephens said in an online message.

Ogden School District teachers are also crafting alternative means of instruction. “Methods of access to this instruction from home will be communicated to you by your student’s school as quickly as possible. This may include online learning opportunities and/or packets. Campuses will reopen on Wednesday, March 18th, for students and parents who need access to resources from the school,” Superintendent Rich Nye said in an online message.

The Utah State Board of Education will determine whether schools have to make up the two-week period after the end of the regular school year “and we will communicate the decision as soon as it is available,” the Ogden district said in a list of frequently asked questions and responses.

Other educational facilities

Ogden-Weber Technical College in Ogden will be closed Monday and Tuesday to prepare for “online and hybrid instruction” from March 18-27, the school said Saturday in a tweet.

Davis Technical College, with locations around Davis County, said on its website that it is “suspending face-to-face instruction and will deliver online instruction to the fullest extent possible” starting Wednesday. Faculty and staff will prepare for the change on Monday and Tuesday and the school will be partially closed through March 27.

Weber State University announced Thursday it would move to “online/remote instruction” through the end of the 2020 spring semester.

Employees clean the libraries on an ongoing basis and efforts have been bolstered with “heightened sanitization of library buildings, equipment and materials,” Lynnda Wangsgard, the library system director, said in a statement.

Likewise, library seating has been removed in areas with public computers “to provide users with expanded personal space.” Library-sponsored classes, programs and gatherings involving groups of 100 or more have been canceled through April 1 and Wangsgard noted the resources available online.

“We encourage library users over the age of 60, and those who are immunocompromised or who have underlying medical conditions, to download free eBooks, eAudiobooks and digital magazines and stream free movies,” Wangsgard said. Details on how to access such resources are on the library system website, www.weberpl.lib.ut.us.

Party caucuses

Suzanne Ellison Ferre, vice chairwoman of the Weber County Republican Party, said the planned March 24 caucus will be postponed until a yet-to-be-determined date, in line with a call by Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown.

In the meantime, delegates picked during the 2018 party caucus may continue in the posts, per party bylaws, and they will do so, Ferre said. Meet-the-candidate events for Weber County delegates, scheduled for March 31, April 1 and April 8, will be held virtually, not face-to-face, though details are still being pinpointed. How to handle the April 18 county convention, when delegates are to formally pick party-sanctioned candidates ahead of the primary, still has to be determined.

Weber County Democrats will restructure the caucuses scheduled for March 24 to prevent face-to-face gatherings, with additional details to come. The county party’s April 11 convention, when delegates tab the favored candidates for the Democratic primary, “will also be electronic,” with more details forthcoming, the party said in a statement.

Weber County jail

The Weber Addiction and Recovery Program will continue at the 12th Street jail facility in Ogden, but not at the Kiesel facility in downtown Ogden. Other volunteer programs have been suspended.

Personal inmate visits may continue, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, but officials encourage use of remote video visits. Remote video visits via the web typically cost $5 each, but the provider, Securus Technologies, is offering coupons allowing one free visit per inmate per week, tentatively starting Tuesday. Codes for free visits may be obtained by emailing freevisit@webercountyutah.gov.

“We are encouraging the public to avoid coming to the sheriff’s complex unless necessary,” the department said in a statement.

Incoming inmates are being screened for symptoms related to coronavirus and “additional medical interventions” will be implemented for inmates showing such symptoms.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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