KAREN TURNER

Karen Turner and other food service workers prepare sack lunches for pick-up and delivery Tuesday morning at Palestine High School. 

With spring break over and the continuing threat of novel coronavirus, local school districts are closed to students until April 6, or longer. Meantime, school districts are preparing to continue learning at home and ensure student nutrition.

Starting Tuesday, Palestine Independent School District is providing at-home learning packets and breakfast and lunch delivery. Students are completing the learning packets for class credit. The district is making weekly packets available online or inside Herald-Press newspaper stands at each campus.

Palestine ISD issued a survey last week to gauge the need for meals and delivery. Parents could choose to pick up meals between the high school and junior high campuses, 9-11 a.m. weekdays, or receive them at students’ regular bus stops, beginning this week.

Westwood Independent School District describes its closure as a “suspension of operations,” but stresses the need to continue instruction. 

“While we know this method will not fully replace face-to-face instruction, it will help reduce gaps in learning,” states a letter by Assistant Superintendent Christine Bedre.

Teachers are on campus arranging online and paper-based instruction methods this week, and students begin at-home learning Monday. Students will access courses online, if they have internet access, or use a paper learning packet, available Tuesday, March 31. 

WISD began distributing brown bag Grab & Go Meals at the high school between 10 a.m. to noon this week. The district is also working with families to deliver meals, if needed. 

Elkhart schools also announced closed campuses until April 6 and started rolling out at-home learning materials this week, both online and on paper for students without Internet access. “Although students are not in school, this is not an extended holiday,” states a letter by Superintendent Lamont Smith, who asked parents to set a structured learning time for completing assignments and regular reading.

Elkhart schools are offering curbside pick-up for lunches, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays, at Elkhart Elementary’s bus drop-off or the middle school’s parent drop-off lane.

University of Texas at Tyler’s University Academy at Palestine has canceled face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the year, but started at-home learning Monday. Teachers message parents and post assignments in Google Classroom for students.

UTTUA is not providing meal service to students, but has encouraged parents to make arrangements with the district in which they reside. 

Extracurricular activities are also on hold. University Interscholastic League, which governs the state’s academic and athletic extracurricular activities, has suspended all games, practices, and events until May 4. 

Despite school closures, districts are encouraging students and staff to connect through social media. PISD asks families to post photos of at-home learning activities and ideas. 

“Wildcat Nation, we want to see how you are social distancing and keeping busy as we work hard to follow all the CDC guidelines to stay healthy,” states PISD’s Facebook page. 

Westwood will sponsor a Virtual Spirit Week by inviting students to post daily theme photos. “Whatcha Reading Wednesday,” for example, is an opportunity to show off a favorite book on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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