By Gerri Miller
Photo: Congratulations are in order for Tarica Lamar. She has been named as the new Assistant Principal of the Elmore County Technical Center. She will assist new Principal Emilie Johnson.
Volunteers and staff with the Elmore County Child Nutrition Program have served more than 2.2 million meals since March 17th, Program Director Cayce Davis told Board of Education members during a specially called meeting on Tuesday.
The program started serving the meals to children after Gov. Kay Ivey made the announcement that schools would be closing. Elmore County schools were closed on the 16th due to COVID-19 concerns. Davis said the last food distribution will be Monday, August 3rd, as schools will begin on August 10th in Elmore County.
Staff members are gearing up for new ways they will serve students when classes begin. Breakfast will be served in the classroom at no charge. Students can choose from six lunch entrees which will be also served in the classroom. Parents will be required to login to new web page to place orders. The finishing touches are currently being place on the new lunch portal.
Students who are learning virtually will also have the option to order lunches. Davis said parents will be able to order a week’s food bundle and pick it up on campus. She said she is also looking at options to include a dinner program where children can take home multiple shelf-stable meals.
Board member Michael Morgan thanked Davis, staff and volunteers “for getting 2.2 million meals out while dealing with all of these new issues with the start of school.”
In other news, Director of IT Services Barbara Burchard told the Board that 2,426 students have now signed up to attend school virtually. There are about 11,200 students enrolled in Elmore County schools. School Superintendent Richard Dennis said these students will be issued Chromebooks next week.
“Our goal is to get our students trained up as quickly as possible to use the virtual platforms,” Dennis said. Dennis said there also will be professional development opportunities for parents and teachers on the virtual system.
Dennis said efforts are being made to park buses equipped with hot spots in areas with spotty internet services. He said he is continuing efforts to work with local providers such as Spectrum and the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative to provide other remedies to help students have access to internet service.
Dennis said another option would be providing service in a central location such as a church or community center where students could come get service and do their school work and he is willing to work with community leaders to make this an option.
Dennis passed out hard hats to the school board members to wear for upcoming groundbreaking ceremonies on school projects such as a new Stanhope Elmore Band room and a construction projects for Wetumpka Middle School and the Holtville High School softball/baseball field house.
“I have your golden shovels ready,” Dennis told the Board.
The Board also approved a contract with Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services to provide athletic training services for area schools. Although Phoenix already provides services to some schools, Dennis said the contract will provide more substantial coverage for the system and a greater footprint.
“It is huge to have a trainer on campuses,” he said. He said the goal is to have the trainer teach classes where the students can participate in the program.
Dennis also talked about the efforts being made to coordinate and distribute Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) supplies and to make sure that schools are prepared to receive students.
He said although paper masks may be provided to all students and teachers at first, masks are currently being printed with each school’s logo or mascot.
“Right now, we are trying to locate a certain distribution spot before we start sending everything out,” he said.
He said the school system is also looking at purchasing a system to broadcast its athletic games so that the community can attend virtually. More information on this option will be provided as plan are confirmed.
This year is going to be “an ongoing, changing process,” Dennis said. “We are going to have to learn to adapt and be versatile.”
Dennis also said that congratulations are in order for Tarica Lamar. He announced that she has been named as the new Assistant Principal of the Elmore County Technical Center. She will assist new Principal Emilie Johnson.