Local restaurant owners and Legacy Academy founders Chad and Jessica Gallagher, are facing a crisis on two fronts as they’ve voluntarily closed their school due to the coronavirus outbreak, and their dine-in restaurant has been ordered closed by the governor in an attempt to contain the coronavirus that has shuttered all schools and dine-in restaurants in the state.
Having just moved the Legacy Academy campus to Lockesburg, and with their restaurant, Stilwell’s, recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, changes have been swift and immediate, causing them to adapt on the run in order to keep both operations running and sustaining their employees.
“Legacy Academy’s new campus was bustling just a few days ago with activities,” Gallagher wrote in an email. “Now, the halls are empty as the school is temporarily shuttered as a result of the Coronavirus.”
Gallgher said that Arkansas private schools are not subject to the governor’s order that closed public schools, but Legacy Academy has joined area public schools in closing down at this time.
“We are a smaller school and consequently have less risk, but we are trying to do our part to just help stop the virus from spreading,” he said. “After Spring Break, we will just take it one week at a time, assess the circumstance, consult health experts and public officials regarding a school our size and make decisions along the way.”
He said that the school has shifted to online classes during the pandemic.
“The three days before Spring Break, that the school was dismissed for the Coronavirus, the school rolled out its first ever virtual courses,” he wrote. “The experiment began with Upper Level students in grades 7-12. It went very well. There were a few kinks to work out, but our team did a fantastic job of implementing the technology to allow us to continue offering direct instruction to our students.”
Gallagher said that the school already utilizes Google Classroom, an online learning platform where teachers can share materials, lessons, and assignment with students and students can turn in work electronically. This has been expanded to meet the demands of off-campus learning. The school has also added live streamed virtual classes using Zoom, an online platform for video conferencing. Gallagher said that the online learning platform will be expanded to include Grammar level students, as well for any future school days that the campus is closed.
Gallagher emphasized faith as the most important component for the students at a time like this,
“We are facing something we’ve never seen before,” he said. “It creates anxiety and stress for adults and can be overwhelming for children. As a faith-centered school, it’s important to us that we use the crisis to demonstrate faith and trust in Christ to our students.”
He said that it’s important for students to realize that faith, like light, is most useful in the darkest moments.
“We may face the unknown day to day, but we rest in full confidence that God will lead us through every difficulty,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to reassure our children, show them our faith, and for families to spend more time together. As a school, we want to support these things and will keep carrying out our mission, come what may.”
Gallagher said that adjustments are having to be made at their downtown coffee shop and local lunch hot spot known for its homemade desserts, as well.
“The restaurant, like all Arkansas dine-in establishments, has closed its indoor dining option per an order from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson,” he said, noting that Stilwell's has shifted to take-out orders only in hopes of helping stop the spread of covid-19.
Stilwell’s has adjusted its hours and its offerings in an effort to try and survive the unprecedented circumstance,” he said. Hours are now limited to 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
“This allows us to offer take out for both lunch and dinner,” he said. “We’ve also built a special menu of take out meals to offer customers in addition to our regular menu. This includes soups by the quart, various casseroles, brisket with sides, and other offerings.”
Customers can call ahead to order and pick up at the counter in the restaurant or request curbside delivery.
“We are just hoping to keep our employees working their full shifts so they don’t have to suffer a cut in their paychecks,” he said. “If we can make enough to pay the employees so their families don’t suffer, then I will feel we navigated successfully.”
The Gallaghers’ said they hope families will order from all of De Queen’s local restaurants and help them each weather this storm.
“As we’ve learned in our community through other challenges, we are stronger together than on our own,” he said.