No school, but work continues

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Clay County campus offering free breakfast/lunch delivery, pick-up during closure

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(Brittany Sullivan • Clay County Progress) Ensuring students safety, fifth grade team members Brittany Timpson and Adrianna Deaver spend Wednesday morning cleaning and sanitizing all devices.
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“I think we went from 100 folks to 50 folks to 10 folks allowed in a room together within 24 hours today,” Clay County School Superintendent Dale Cole said at the start of an emergency meeting of the Clay County Board of Education on Monday, March 16.

The called meeting to address the district’s plans for handling coronavirus and the resulting school closures was broadcast via Facebook Live.

“This is an evolving situation and we are struggling to keep up with it,” Cole continued, as he shared plans for feeding Clay County’s children, offering free Wifi, distributing Chrome books and papers and how staff will operate. “We have been told we could be out for as long as eight weeks.”

A main topic was meal distribution. “In an effort to provide meals to children and assure they receive the nutrition they need to stay healthy and strong during the time that school is closed,” Cole said. “The following plan will be implemented during the closure.”

Starting Wednesday, March 18, breakfasts and lunches were available to every child in the county, from ages 1 to 18. School buses will run twice daily to all regular bus stops or food may be picked up at the schools. Buses will leave the school at

8:15 p.m. with breakfasts and again at 12 p.m. with lunch. Cole said the routes will be the same as normal pickup, but about two hours later than normal morning bus pickup. The same procedure will be done at lunch. “If there is no student or parent at the bus stop, the meal will not be dropped off,” Cole said. “We have to check the names off the list to be reimbursed.”

In addition, breakfast and lunch meals are available for curbside pick-up at Hayesville Elementary School starting at 8:15 a.m. until 12 p.m. during the week. Families may stay in their cars and meals will be handed to them. That way, both meals may be picked up at once for all children in the household. For those who cannot get the food either way, the school’s sheriff resource officers have volunteered to deliver the meals.

Those who need delivery in another way should call the Central Office-School Nutrition at (828) 389-8513.

Cole said the plan will be revisited at the end of the week and adjusted according- ly, based on deliveries made and food picked up curbside. “The cafeteria can also be used as a nutrition hub for families that can come and pick up food and food packs donated throughout the community,” Cole added.

Off-site student instruction will begin on Monday, March 23 for all students and the fol- lowing provisions are being made this week:

• Chromebooks will be available for all 6-12 grade students to take home, if needed. This is not required if they have a device at home.

• Devices will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday March 19 and 20 or from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, March 23 through 27, as well as from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 19.

• The usual $30 fee will be waived on the front end; how- ever, a form will be signed stating it will be collected if the device is returned with damages.

• The tech team is provid- ing a free Wi-Fi hot spot enabled space in the senior parking lot of HHS.

Cole explained teachers will use Google Classroom as the primary platform for facilitating instruction and posting assignments. Five days’ worth of instruction will be given, at first, mostly on Google platform; however, paper and pencil options will be available for students without devices. Students without Internet access may pick up packets in the front office between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 19, 20, 23 or 27.

“Work that is completed can be returned to the front office anytime that week or it can return to school with the student upon the reopening of our schools,” Cole said. “All teachers will be expected to provide assignments to students; not just teachers of core classes.”

For elementary students, each grade level has devel- oped digital information to share with those who have Internet access. Specific classroom information will be shared through Class Dojo. “We understand that everyone does not have access to digital resources. Students who do not have access will be able to pick up a packet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 19 and 20 and Monday and Friday, March 23 and 27. They will also be available from 5-7 p.m. Thursday March 19.

The pre-K office has pre-K learning plans which may be picked up in the pre-K office at the same times listed above. Report cards will be shared digitally or can be picked up in the office on those dates. Further plans will be created in the event we need to distribute iPads.

Any student with an EL, IEP or 504 plan, will have instructions sent home regarding specific accommodations There will be no EC services, including IEP Team Meetings, will be provided for the first two weeks of the mandated school shutdown.

Cole read the a letter from North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson on behalf of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Executive Order 117, Guidance for Personnel Matters & School Facilities. “As of right now, these first five days will be designated as mandatory teacher workdays, but that is subject to change. If we can get everything ready with the infrastructure ready to work virtually, I think we can at least move to optional workdays. We will be working toward staff being able to work from home, as needed for their circumstances.” The ordinance mandates schools be closed for instructional days for K-12 students and describes how March 16 through 30 may be used. Remaining days may be designated as optional teacher workdays. “All staff remain in work status and are eligible to be paid,” Cole said. “That has been made clear to us. Local schools have the flexibility to make mandatory teacher workdays or annual leave days.”

Cole said the Clay County Schools leadership team had been on a Sunday confer- ence call from NCDPI. The reminders they want to share

are these: One Message, One Mission, One Team. “We ask that you have no back and forth with members of the community about politics. We are government employees,” Cole said. “The one mission is to provide the highest quality instruction we can in the safest way possible for our students. We have worked over the last three or four months to really listen to our folks and a challenge is an opportunity. It will take every one of us working together to meet the needs of our students. Let’s use this challenge as an opportunity to grow.”

The school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 23, via Facebook Live. It will be closed to the public; however, public comment will be allowed one at a time.