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LINCOLN -- Bus drivers, Aramark employees, school staff, students and other volunteers are helping to provide meals to students during the covid-19 health care crisis, said Mary Ann Spears, School District superintendent.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson initially ordered schools to close for in-school instruction from March 17 through the end of spring break to help stop the spread of the virus in Arkansas. Hutchinson later pointed out the virus has spread to numerous counties and announced he was extending the closing of schools at least through April 17.

Lincoln schools delivered 700 meals the first day of the school closing and delivered more on subsequent days. Spears said the school is providing meals at school buildings, along the bus routes and dropping them off at different places in the district, such as Evansville Fire Station.

"We ran every (bus) route," Spears said.

She said the district also has made the decision to provide meals during spring break. Bus drivers and Aramark employees were on board with the idea because that means they will be able to continue to work, Spears said.

Spears said the district received permission to provide meals for anyone younger than 18 in the home.

District and school offices remained open during the week and closed Friday for spring break. District cleaning staff and Service 360 cleaned all buildings before spring break, Spears said.

Schools sent home alternative method of instruction packets with students for online instruction. High school students took home their computers. Middle school and elementary students took home hard copies for their school work for the week.

"We've had AMI days available every year, but it's not had a big testing of it, like this," Spears said. "One question is the testing window for standardized tests if school closings are extended beyond spring break." She said any decisions to change the testing dates would be made by the state Department of Education.

Spears added, "We're taking it day by day."

Jill Jackson, Lincoln elementary principal, said her teachers provided instruction for students for eight days. If the governor and Arkansas Department of Education decide to extend the school closings, she said teachers would reconvene and come up with plans for the future.

"We wanted to find different activities that are not work sheets," Jackson said, saying teachers created a "choice board" with activities specific to the grade level.

Students have lessons on math, phonics, writing, literacy, art and music activities, Jackson said.

Jackson said teachers are available all day through email or other communications to answer questions and help students. The school also provided online resources for parents, Jackson said.

Lincoln High math teacher Tammy Brown started her digital lessons March 16. She said she gave her algebra students packets with guided notes and practice lessons. Brown teaches Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and geometry.

She stays in contact with her students using Zoom video chat, a platform where she can communicate by video with many students at a time. She had 15 students join her first Zoom session, Brown said.

With the Zoom technology, Brown said she's able to use her iPad and share her screen with her students. As she works problems, students can see her work.

"It's like I have a white board, and they are seeing that," Brown said.

She's also given her students other resources to use.

Her geometry students are more independent learners and are able to work at their own pace, but Brown said she's available to answer questions and work on problems. She monitors their work and is available for Zoom sessions if they are struggling with problems.

Brown last week said she wondered what her day would look like teaching from home and found she stayed busy with Zoom lessons and fielding email and questions throughout the day.

"I know students were doing what they were supposed to do," Brown said. "It actually surprised me. At Lincoln I am so thrilled we're given the technology that I'm able to do this. It was just phenomenal the way it worked."

She said some of her students were working on their assignments on the schedule of their regular school day. In addition, she said she's seen an outpouring from resources all over the country to help assist teachers during this time.

"With the access we have to teach now in this instance, the AMI days don't have to be wasted," Brown said.

With the school closing is extended, Brown said her next step will be to try to recreate the classroom with her students to make it more interactive.

NW News on 03/29/2020

Print Headline: Lincoln schools dealing with covid-19

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