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Published April 1st, 2020
Like other cities, Orinda moves to next stage of Covid-19 response
The Thursday food truck event in Orinda was cut to just one Taste of the World food truck March 26, with many residents heeding the order to stay home. Photo Sora O'Doherty

Following the adoption of a proclamation of local emergency March 16 by the Orinda City Council, the business of local government has changed as dramatically as the lives of city residents and businesses in the intense effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and its sometimes deadline result, COVID-19. The council is required to renew the emergency declaration every 60 days, if necessary.
The city is trying to maintain essential services, such as public works, and to provide assistance and guidance to citizens. All city offices, facilities, and parks are closed but most of the city employees are working remotely. Orinda will hold its first virtual city council meeting on April 7 via Zoom. The public will be encouraged to use email to bring their concerns to the attention of the council.
Staff are continuing to accept planning applications and respond to public inquiries, just not in person. The city has begun accepting electronic filing and staff can access desktops, open files, and use programs as if they were in the office. Planning Director Drummond Buckley said that the county is continuing to accept most types of permits, and county building inspections are going ahead because it is considered an essential activity. Senior Planner Mayank Patel is continuing to work on developing proposals on downtown development that will be brought to the city council.
In an effort to support local restaurants, Mayor Darlene Gee issued a letter to the public, urging residents to order take-away or delivery meals. The city has prepared a list of all restaurants and the services they are providing at this time: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AwLEAv2gdxMfuswsY9dbzBPjxlmDjs31TtfyFuyitGE/edit#gid=0
The city of Orinda also created one go-to resource for the community on nutritional, educational, recreation and just fun resources at www.cityoforinda.org/444/Virtual-Recreation
At its March 27 virtual meeting, the Orinda Union School District extended school closures to May 1, as with other school districts in Lamorinda, though Director of Curriculum David Schragg has said that it is possible that the closure may extend to the end of the academic school year. OUSD Board President Cara Hoxie said that owing to lack of social distancing and challenges of wiping down play equipment, all OUSD playground equipment is now closed and marked with yellow caution tape. OUSD teachers and staff are being paid and the district has handed out over 100 chrome books to families that have requested them. During the first phase of distance learning teachers were providing enrichment and social and emotional support. Schragg also said that OUSD is developing a single site where parents will be able to see all the resources available to them. He also said that in phase two, OUSD will be reaching out to individual students to assure that each student will be able to avail of phase two distance learning. The Director of Technology told the OUSD at the meeting that they are doing their best to distribute devices to students for distant learning use, as well as building a virtual support system. Orinda schools cannot, at this time, offer real time online teaching due to a variety of factors, such as the fact that teachers are home with their own children to look after, and because of legal issues involving equal access to education for all students.
The Orinda Chamber of Commerce has canceled plans for the Orinda Restaurant Tour, the Member Appreciation Party, networking mixers and other in-person events until further notice. The Chamber also encouraged the public to support local restaurants as well as local retailers through their online stores.

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