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COVID19: Local schools working to meet students’ needs

Schools across Marengo County are officially closed to students due to concerns related to the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. While there are no classes, school systems are working to continue meeting the needs of students.

The Demopolis, Linden, and Marengo County school systems each closed at the end of the day Monday with classes currently scheduled to resume on April 6.

FEEDING PROGRAMS

One of the needs each system is working to meet is providing meals to students.

The Demopolis City School System will provide a feeding program scheduled Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20 and March 23 through March 27. The feeding program will not be available the week of the system’s planned spring break, March 30 through April 3. If the State of Emergency continues past spring break, the feeding program is expected to be available for that time as well.

The DCSS feeding program is open to any child up to the age of 18 and the student does not have to be enrolled with DCSS to participate. The meals will be made available through a curbside pickup in the front of Westside and U.S. Jones elementary schools between the hours of 10:30 and noon each of the scheduled days.

Linden Superintendent Timothy Thurman said he is contacting representatives of the Summer Feeding Program to move up the start date for their schools, but in the meantime is providing information to parents about businesses that are providing free lunches to students.

Marengo County Schools will have meals available for pick-up at each school from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on March 17-20 and again March 30 through April 3. The students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

‘ACADEMIC ENGAGEMENT’

Each school system is also making available to students enrichment learning packets and web resources that will focus on review work for specific grade levels and subjects.

“These packets are being provided as an academic enrichment service to help students remain academically engaged during the State of Emergency,” said DCSS Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff.

Thurman described the packets for Linden students as “rigorous but not new material.”

The MCSS’s supplemental material is available in packets and online based on a survey on marengo.k12.al.us.

STAFFING DURING CLOSURE

In Demopolis, Kallhoff said the schools would be working with limited staff working from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. He added that custodians would be working this week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a focus of deep cleaning. The custodial hours will be shortened next week to 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The central office will be open with a limited staff, but the public is encouraged to call rather than visit in person. The board will consider incentives for the support staff that work during the State of Emergency.

Teachers with the MCSS will continue working Tuesday and Wednesday, and all other 12-month staff members will also work during the closure to fulfill other MCSS duties.

Administrative staff will be present for a limited number of hours to fulfill other duties for the Linden City School System.

DCSS REPORT CARDS

For Demopolis students, report cards will not be mailed this week as scheduled, according to Kallhoff. Instead, parents have access to those grades through the iNow portal. Those third quarter report cards will be made available to students upon their return to class.

ABSENCES

Due to the State of Emergency, student absences for Monday, March 16 are considered excused. Employee pay also will not be impacted.

COMMUNICATION

Each system will be utilizing social media and other forms of communication to provide their communities with updates and changes. The Demopolis Times will post all updates online as they are made available.

“Things are changing rapidly and we will continue to use social media, local media and all-calls to communicate updates to parents and stakeholders,” Kallhoff said.

— Teresa Boykin and Robert Blankenship contributed to the report.