I write this column in the full swing of our “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the crisis emerged in mid-March, the town administration acted immediately to keep residents and town staff safe from potential illness. We put into place new procedures for town personnel that included heightened facility cleaning protocols; mandating regular hand-washing; use of hand sanitizer and sanitary gloves; refraining from sharing work areas and phones; refraining from touching the face, eyes and mouth; and hygienic practices with regard to sneezing, coughing and the like. All are critical to stemming the spread of the virus.
Town Hall closed to the public and began handling business online and by mail, phone, email and the drop slot by the front door. All operations of the highway department, sewer department and parks department continued while observing appropriate health safety and social distancing protocols.
Although the library and the community center buildings had to close, their staffs continued to reach out to residents. They continue to do so: daily calls to check on our senior program participants, email and social media posts with games, contests, story times, and more. Creative approaches to expanding information and resources available online.
As with our Town Hall and public works staff, a helpful and informative voice on the other end of the phone, answering questions and providing current information about program and service updates is what we owe as our duty to Pittsford’s residents. Of course, this represents nothing new for us. We’ve just adapted and figured out how to do it in a different way.
Across all town departments, our staff members have a deep commitment to our residents. They’ve risen to a unique challenge, serving our residents with the highest level of care, consideration and professionalism. By this I’m delighted, but not one bit surprised. My sincere thanks to them all.
Nor am I surprised at how Pittsford residents have met the moment. You’ve done so with creativity, compassion and generosity. Just a few examples:
Members of Pittsford’s Chinese-American community organized, collected and donated approximately 2,600 medical masks to Pittsford senior living communities, health care providers and first-responders. The donation packages included writings and pictures by the youngest members of the volunteer group, expressing love and support for all those in need of the masks. Town staff organized distribution of the masks and joined the volunteers in delivering them.
St. John Fisher College offered residential accommodation to health care workers from Rochester Regional Health who are well, but who want to avoid going home between shifts because they have compromised people at home.
Pittsford Mendon High School junior Katherine Huang and her sister Cailey, a seventh grader at Barker Road Middle School, created and distributed social media public safety promotional images designed to inspire young people to get serious about COVID-19 and to help everyone stay safe.
Many individuals and groups have collected generous donations for the Pittsford Food Cupboard.
Over 200 submissions were made to the school district’s online Student Virtual Art Show and plenty of supportive comments were added from those who viewed it.
Pittsford teen Maddee LeClair is taking material donations and orders for the cloth masks she makes and distributes herself via her Facebook group, Maddee’s Masks.
Pittsford students, working with the Pittsford PTSA, organized a lawn sign fundraiser — signs to show support for graduating seniors and dollars — to support Pittsford Youth Services and other regional charities benefiting children and youth: Rochester Kids, St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center and the Children’s Institute.
Overall, the situation remains very fluid. How we stand in June and beyond will depend on the spread of the virus or its containment. Please observe the current social distancing protocols, indoors and out. Across our society, that more than anything else will determine how soon we can get back to life as usual and reconnect with one another.
You can follow the Facebook pages of our Pittsford Community Library and our Pittsford Recreation Department for resources for adults, kids and families to learn and have some fun during the lockdown and phased reopening. Visit the town website for information about upcoming town meetings and for COVID-19 response updates. I’ll keep you posted on my Bill Smith Pittsford Town Supervisor Facebook page. And if you haven’t done so yet, please consider subscribing to our once a week e-newsletter. It provides timely town information and emergency updates. It is used for town business only and your email address is never shared for other purposes.
As ever, should you have any comments or questions, you may reach me directly by phone at (585) 248-6220 or by email at wsmith@townofpittsford.org. I answer my own phone and am always interested to know what matters most to you as a resident.
As you read this, undoubtedly the pandemic’s repercussions will be with us yet. Take care and watch out for each other.
We’ve been dealing with a situation such as the civilian population of the United States hasn’t experienced since World War II. We’ll get through it together. We’ll emerge stronger.
Bill Smith serves as supervisor for the town of Pittsford.