Franklin In The Age Of Coronavirus Topic Of Mayor’s Town Hall

Mayor Phil Kramer hosted a virtual Town Hall on April 9.

Township police will go on modified shifts beginning April 13, and the school district is making plans for an alternative to the traditional high school graduation, according to township officials.

Those were two nuggets of information that were revealed in an April 9 virtual town hall meeting, hosted by Mayor Phil Kramer.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, which was broadcast on the Mayor’s Facebook page, were Township Councilman Will Galtieri, Township Manager Robert Vornlocker, FTPD Lt. Phil Rizzo, schools Superintendent John Ravally, Franklin Fire District 1 Commissioner Jim Wickman, and Mike Rossi from the Franklin Food Bank.

Vornlocker said the police department’s new schedule would not affect how the township is patrolled.

He said the new shifts will give the officers the chance to self-quarantine.

He said that three shifts will be condensed into two, which will result in officers working longer shifts and having longer off periods.

The goal, Vornlocker said, is to prevent any potential spread of the coronavirus among police and the public, and among the officers themselves.

Creating two shifts “will give them the manpower to do that,” he said.

Discussions have begun at the high school for a contingency plan if a traditional graduation ceremony is not able to be held, Ravally said.

He said Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce during the week of April 14 “what the rest of the school year looks like.”

He said that in a week to 10 days, the district will have a better handle on how it will operate during the remainder of the school year.

Franklin High School Principal Frank Chmiel will be talking to students when they return from Spring Break “about what graduation might look like if we’re not back in time,” Ravally said.

He said the district fully expects to hold a traditional graduation at the end of June, “but if not, we need a contingency plan.”

“Those talks began before Spring Break, we’ll pick them up again when we return,” he said.

Ravally also said that the district has distributed thousands of breakfasts and lunches to township school children while the schools have been closed.

“We’ll be assessing the program going forward,” Ravally said.

On the topic of food distributed to the township’s neediest, Rossi said the Franklin Food Bank has seen a 163-family increase since the pandemic began.

“We’ve served 880 families in the last seven days,” he said. “The surge is coming, and it’s growing.”

“We are evaluating whether we need to purchase food on a daily and weekly basis,” he said.

Rossi said the food bank will not receive the usual funding it gets from its two largest fundraisers, Empty Bowls and the Tour de Franklin bike tours.

Empty Bowls has been cancelled and the Tour has been changed to an individual event, he said.

“We are actively fundraising to replace that money,” Rossi said. “We will not shy away from providing food for our families in need.”

Vornlocker also said that the township employees are still working in the municipal building, even though it is not open to the public.

“Services have not lapsed at all, we’re just doing it in a different way these days,” he said.

Here is the video from the Town Hall:

Posted by Michael Steinbrück on Thursday, April 9, 2020

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