Schools Offering Meals, ‘Packets’ To Students

Schools Offering Meals, ‘Packets’ To Students

AT FAIRFIELD ELEMENTARY Tuesday, Chasidy and Chasen Wade pick up their academic packets for use while school is out. (Mary Woodson photo)

Area school divisions are working to keep students fed over the statewide two-week school closure mandated by Gov. Ralph Northam in response to the coronavirus emergency.

Northam ordered Friday, March 13, that Virginia public schools close starting Monday, March 16, and remain closed through Friday, March 27. Over this period, Rockbridge County, Buena Vista and Lexington schools are now providing their students pick-up breakfast and lunch at sites designated by each division.

As many families depend on their public schools for their children’s meals, student nutrition was identified by all three divisions as a priority during the closing. The details of each division’s feeding program vary slightly. All divisions ask that students are present with parent or guardian to pick up their meals.

Buena Vista schools will offer “Grab-and-Go” meals to any child 18 or under at Enderly Heights Elementary, starting today, Wednesday, and continuing each weekday of the closing between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. For families that cannot pick up their meals, the school system asks that families contact their students’ “home school,” the school their child attends, to make arrangements for their meals to be delivered.

Lexington schools will also provide a drive-through meal service at Lylburn Downing Middle School for children 18 and under. The program will operate Monday, Wednesday and Fridays of the closing period, starting today, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“Please stay tuned for details,” the school system explained to families in a statement regarding any additional dates of the feeding program.

“Those who live near LDMS and wish to walk to pick up meals, we ask that you meet staff outside of the main office entrance,” the statement reads.

Families who cannot get to the pickup site at LDMS are encouraged to contact the director of operations and student services, Jason White (463-7146 or to arrange delivery.

The Rockbridge County school system will offer meal pick-up sites at “each end of the county,” at Natural Bridge Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, and Maury River Middle, between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Superintendent Phillip Thompson told The NewsGazette.

In a statement to county families, the school system asks that families who seek to pick up meals complete a meal order survey, available on the division website, for each student on each day they intend to pick up a meal. For accurate pickup counts, households are to complete as many meal order surveys as there are number of students in the home.

County families may also indicate on the meal order survey they would like their meals to be delivered.

“A bagged lunch and breakfast will be delivered via [division school bus] to the student’s afternoon bus stop between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.,” the statement to families reads.

In addition to providing meals, the school divisions are also working to keep students engaged in learning by preparing take-home “academic packets.”

“Our goal is to provide to equitable access to skills and concepts over the school closure,” Lexington Superintendent Rebecca Walters told The News-Gazette.

Teachers from all three divisions utilized prescheduled teacher workdays in the past week to create learning materials for students.

Parents in each division are encouraged this week to connect with their child’s school to pick up hard-copy educational materials and, if pickup is an issue, to arrange for delivery with school staff.

Rockbridge Superintendent Thompson told The News-Gazette many students are receiving their materials digitally, thanks to the 1:1 Chromebook laptop initiative at Maury River Middle and Rockbridge County High schools.

“It’s been a chore to keep up with, but we feel pretty good,” Buena Vista Superintendent John Keeler said of the division staff’s efforts to follow state government recommendations in the midst of the coronavirus emergency.

Per the recommendation of the state superintendent, Rockbridge, Buena Vista and Lexington teachers will stay home during the school closure.

“We feel if this thing is going to get better, we’ve got to keep people away from each other,” Keeler said.

Twelve-month staff and administration will continue work in their schools during normal hours of operation.

School administration across the divisions are working with public officials to remain up-to-date in their protocols and scheduling, with the common goal of keeping students and families informed during this challenging time. Area families are asked to contact their school main offices by phone with any questions or concerns.

“We don’t know what will happen,” Thompson said. “To us, education is never secondary, but unfortunately, education has to be secondary in this situation for everyone’s health and their families.”

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

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