It’s all new territory for the schools and so far, the school district has begun to chart it.
On Tuesday, food service delivery of breakfast and lunches took place at nine sites throughout the county (see sidebar).
This Monday, virtual learning will start for all students at both Franklin County Schools and the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, after a week of preparation by teachers and the approval of a continuity plan by the school board, at a regular meeting Monday evening.
“Our staff was eager to get back to work to see the kids,” said Terry Hilton, director of the district’s food service program.
She said the distribution served 816 total meals Tuesday, with the greatest number at the ABC School site in Apalachicola. That number nearly doubled on Wednesday.
“Everything is grab and go, all individually wrapped,” Hilton said. “We’re handing off bags to students curbside. Each student got breakfast and lunch at the same time.”
Right now, the district is not slated to offer a weekend’s worth of meals at Friday’s distribution, but they are seeking a waiver from the state that could come at any time. In addition, they are working to see if the state will approve the meals being delivered along bus routes.
“It all has to be approved by the state,” Hilton said. “Hopefully we can get approved quickly.”
Hilton said the response so far from parents has been very good. “A lot of people were very thankful and grateful,” she said.
Bus drivers have so far assisted in delivery of the meals to the nine sites, as have nine staff members who have been handling distribution, and nine staffers bagging breakfasts and lunches at the school.
Tomorrow and Friday, the district office will be busy providing available electronic devices to kindergartners through 12th graders who are in need of one in order to take part in the virtual learning set to begin Monday. (See sidebar)
The parent/guardian must bring a legal photo ID to pick up a device. To expedite the device distribution process, parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to complete the required Franklin County School District equipment check-out form prior to pickup. It can be found at the district website at www.franklincountyschools.org
Superintendent Traci Yoder said the district has been busy sharing guidelines both for teachers and for families, that show how parents can help with their children’s’ education. As it stands now the virtual learning will take place at least until April 15, with many educators expecting it may last through the end off the school year.
“We are trying to make it really informative,” she said. “These are living documents because we never had to do this before. There could be some glitches we need to work on with time. We had to get everybody well prepared.”
“We know this will have a huge impact to our families,” she said. “I’m trying to provide some normalcy for our students, and see if we can bridge that partnership between school and home.
“We’ve got to find the good in this,” Yoder said. “A lot of them have been posting on how they miss school.”
Yoder said plans are being drawn up to fill in gaps caused by a likely loss of graduation, prom and other memorable end-of-the-year events.
“We will do something,” she said. “We’re not going to let the kids miss out on these once in a lifetime opportunities.”
ABC School Principal Chimene Johnson said the school’s continuity plan will blend online learning and paper assignments.
“We will be utilizing current curriculum and online instruction platforms,” she said. “Teachers returned this week to select paper materials/workbooks that will go home. They will prepare 'parent friendly' lesson plans for a modified instructional day with online lessons and work.”
Teachers use of Zoom accounts and Google classrooms will enable them, like a Franklin County Schools, to conference with parents and share video lessons with students.
In addition, Eagletree Technology is working with Consolidated Communications to provide free internet services for 60 days to families without a provider.
“The school will work with families who do not have a device and allow them to borrow one during school closure,” said Johnson. “All our core subjects have an online component that students can access for times such as this. We have supplemental online learning programs that provide review and remediation to our students. These can also be accessed anywhere and anytime. Communication to our parents still continues through Facebook, emails, Remind and One Call.
“Our teachers and staff are dedicated to provide the best quality education to our students during this time of school closure. We want every child to continue to grow and reach their full potential,” she said. “We will assist families in order to see this happen.”