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Royal Oak, Clawson announce COVID-19 response plans

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published March 14, 2020 | Updated March 16, 2020 4:41pm

File photo


ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — Royal Oak and Clawson, and their public school districts, are responding to the coronavirus pandemic and taking direction from the county and state.

Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Dearborn, Farmington Hills and Troy are currently offering curbside screening and evaluation for COVID-19 only for patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19: fever, cough and shortness of breath. Before attempting to get screened, call Beaumont’s COVID-19 hotline — (248) 551-7000 — or your physician’s office.


City of Royal Oak
On March 12, Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier prefaced the second round of interviews for the three city manager finalists with an update about some of the measures the city had taken and would continue to take to preserve the health of residents.

While the finalists — Paul J. Brake, the city manager of Morgantown, West Virginia; Sheryl L. Mitchell, the city administrator of Lathrup Village; and Erik D. Tungate, the city manager of Oak Park — met department heads, managers and city employees earlier that day, the city canceled a public meet-and-greet prior to the interviews due to COVID-19 concerns.

“The comments I’m making and the actions we’re taking are not to create any sort of panic, but rather to reassure that the city is operating in the most cautious way — we’d rather err on the side of caution than fall victim to ignorance,” Fournier said.

He said the staff, from the fire and police chiefs to City Manager David Gillam and others, have been in constant contact with the state, the county and its health division, Beaumont Hospital, and other community partners to ensure Royal Oak is prepared to address the COVID-19 situation.

“Until further notice, we are canceling all nonessential recreation activities and senior programs,” he said.

The city also canceled all nonessential meetings through March 31, with the exception of the March 16 and March 30 City Commission meetings, and the March 18 Downtown Development Authority and Historic District Commission meetings.

Fournier encouraged residents to wash their hands often, stay home if they feel sick, and practice social distancing in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

He said the city does not want to overwhelm its first responders, hospital system or harm the community’s most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with serious, chronic medical conditions.

“We’re going to be increasing our cleaning frequency, especially in areas that are frequented by the public or that the public touches, in an attempt to curb any sort of contagion situation,” he said. “City Manager Gillam is working with his department heads to ensure we have plans in place in the event there’s any sort of need to limit access to City Hall.”

On March 13, the Royal Oak Public Library announced that it would close beginning March 14 until further notice. The library asked that residents do not return any books — no fines will accrue during the closure. Digital offerings will still be available on the library’s website,

On March 16, Royal Oak announced that the Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Community Center is closed until April 12. In order to answer patrons’ questions via phone, staff will report to work from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Beginning March 18, the senior center kitchen will only provide pickup meals from noon to 3 p.m., and reservations must be made in advance. The center will provide transportation for dialysis, therapy and non-sick medical appointments. The Royal Oak Senior Essential Services program will continue to run. For more information, call the center at (248) 246-3900.

On March 16, 44th District Court Chief Judge Derek Meinecke announced that the court would be closed March 16, with only senior administration expected to report and all other staff directed to stay home until provided further direction. Meinecke said all court hearings are adjourned, and a new court date will arrive by mail.

Beginning March 17, he said, the court would be open in a “very limited capacity,” and would post further instructions on the court website and Facebook page to assist those who have pending cases or other business at the court.

For updates, visit or call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000.


Royal Oak Schools
On March 12, Royal Oak Schools announced that all schools in the district would be closed, starting March 13, until further notice, including all programs, child care and adult education.

In a March 13 letter, Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick thanked the community for its “patience and understanding during this unprecedented time” and provided updates developed in collaboration with staff, principals and program leaders.

The district will keep its spring break as scheduled April 6-10.

Building secretaries will contact parents regarding obtaining student medications, and building principals are creating schedules to allow students to pick up necessary items, such as instruments and personal items, from the schools. The district is not requiring all students to clear lockers or desks at this time.

Learning suggestions and support for students and families during the interruption will be shared in the coming days. Fitzpatrick said the current focus is students’ and families’ well-being.

The district will continue to partner with families to keep all individual education plans current. Fitzpatrick advised families to plan on reserving the time and date of any scheduled IEP meetings. All IEP meetings will be held via conference calls or other web-based tools, and Fitzpatrick said the district will contact families to confirm their availability.

“As you can imagine, our plans and decisions continue to evolve. We will share more information as it develops. Take care of one another,” she stated.

On March 16, Royal Oak Schools announced that a free food pickup program would be available near the front entrances of Keller Elementary, Upton Elementary and Royal Oak High School beginning March 17. Food will be provided to anyone 18 and younger between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Families can pick up both meals at the same time. They can also pick up multiple days in one pickup. Students do not need to be present. There will be no school access during pickups. For more information, call (248) 435-8400, ext. 1223, or email

Royal Oak Youth Assistance announced that, while its offices will be closed during the time schools are closed, it will be in touch with client families regarding alternatives to in-person counseling appointments and remain available by email.

ROYA urged families affected by the loss of free breakfast or lunch or the loss of income from breaks in employment to take advantage of its emergency needs grants, which help with groceries, utilities or medication costs. To request an emergency needs application, email


City of Clawson
In a March 13 letter addressed to the mayor, City Council members, staff and community members, Clawson Interim City Manager Kathy Leenhouts and Clawson Police Chief and Assistant City Manager Scott Sarvello announced that Oakland County Executive David Coulter held a teleconference regarding COVID-19, which encouraged the community to cancel large gatherings of people and to cancel programming that puts people at greater risk of contracting the illness.

Furthermore, Leenhouts and Sarvello’s letter outlined the following:

• Clawson City Hall, the Department of Public Works, Blair Memorial Library and Hunter Community Center will be closed to the public March 14-April 6.

• Essential staff will report as usual and part-time staff will be assigned hours by the department heads.

• Pay bills via U.S. mail or online.

• Utilize the payment drop box in City Hall to pay bills.

• Renew library materials online and use the drop box for returns.

• Renew dog licenses online via the Oakland County website.

• Mail in applications for permits and make permit payments by mail.

• The DPW lobby will be locked and a direct phone number will be posted to have immediate phone contact with a DPW employee during office hours.

• Essential senior transportation can be scheduled as usual.

• Senior meals can be ordered a day in advance for pickup only.

• Call the senior center for Medical Loan Closet needs.

“This remains a fluid situation, with regular updates from Oakland County,” the letter reads. “We will keep you posted on any additional changes or information as it comes to us and welcome any input you have on this situation.”

For more information, call Clawson City Hall at (248) 435-4500.


Clawson Public Schools
In a March 13 letter to parents, guardians and staff, Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Tim Wilson said that in his 30 years in education, he cannot remember a time “where things have changed so rapidly in one week and not knowing what will happen tomorrow.”

The district is keeping its spring break scheduled for April 6-10.

Along with the schools, the district will close child care and preschool programs.

Wilson said staff will work on preparing learning opportunities for students; however, the district is not prepared to provide a continuation of the day-to-day curriculum.

Custodians will continue to work, but district buildings will be open on a limited basis. Wilson asked that students and parents not be in buildings from March 18 through the time the district is closed.

“There are many other things that need to be addressed. I am working hard to keep you informed, and I ask for your patience,” Wilson wrote. “I am working hard to be as accurate as possible with information before I send it out.”

He said principals will be actively working and checking emails, so parents and guardians should contact them directly with specific questions, and that his main mode of communications is email, so they should check it regularly.

In a March 12 letter, Wilson said Clawson Public Schools would be closed March 13 to provide training for staff in order to be prepared to provide remote learning for students.

In a March 11 letter, Wilson said custodians were working hard to keep buildings clean, with an extra focus on disinfection. The district also purchased a machine that sanitizes an entire room at a time, and it would begin using the machine on a regular basis once it arrived.

Beginning March 17, Clawson Public Schools announced, Chartwells Dining Services will provide a free brown bag breakfast and lunch program for all children 18 years old and younger, as well as people with special needs up to age 26. Children do not need to be present for a parent to pick up meals, nor do they need to be enrolled in CPS to participate in the program.

Curbside pickup will take place at the front entrance of Clawson Middle School, 150 John M Ave., near 14 Mile Road and Main Street, from 11 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Meals can be picked up for multiple days — for example, Saturday and Sunday meals can be picked up on Friday.

In a March 16 letter, Wilson said the district’s developmental kindergarten through 12th grade programs will reopen April 13 and its child care program will reopen April 6, although the dates are subject to change based on guidance from state and health officials.