In the Coping with Closure series, the PAPER Team explores the implications of changing realities in education: School closures, virtual instruction plans, and the need to support children & families who rely on schools for more than just learning.

When school closures and distance learning programs were first being announced, a seemingly endless flood of concern came up. Arguably the most urgent of them was how students would receive free and reduced lunches still get access to them.

Approximately 30 million students across the US qualify for free and reduced lunch. Students and families are currently navigating the rapidly evolving situation of school closures. Attempting to adjust to the unfamiliar terrain of distance learning, while dealing with a host of new socioeconomic challenges that have resulted from the pandemic is already a lot to juggle for many families. The last thing they should worry about is meals for children that would normally be provided by their schools. So how are schools and families coping?

Distributing meals

Although school closures were very sudden, school districts quickly made plans to continue to provide access to meals for students. However, there has been a need to update the process as the situation evolves. School districts have focused on developing their plans to create even better processes for handing out meals while social distancing.

The Paper team did some searching to find out how some schools are getting these meals to their community.

1) Indian River Schools in Florida, for example, have started mobile cafes to pass out meals to students. The district has three buses that make twelve stops. When they sound the alarm on the bus, the students come out of their houses to pick up their breakfast and lunch.

2) To increase their social distancing efforts but maintain the number of meals provided for students the Department of Education in South Carolina has started to provide up to 5 meals on a single day.

3) The Los Angeles Unified School District, as another example, has listed sixty-four “grab-and-go” sites for its roughly one thousand schools that students can visit to pick up their meals.

Takeaways

We don’t know what new regulations will fall into place in the coming weeks and months, but it’s been so inspiring to see how much schools are doing to continue to show up for their students and communities. As schools are coming up with new ways to ensure that their students have access to basic necessities, they prove to be more than just educational institutions. Acts like this bring communities, families, and students together, despite stay-at-home regulations.

Our team at Paper wants to say that these tireless efforts are not going unnoticed, and we want to continue highlighting these inspiring stories.

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If you’re an educator, what are some ways your school or district is meeting students’ needs during this time? Reach out to us on Twitter – we'd love to hear about your experiences and opinions.

About PAPER

Founded in 2014, Paper is an Educational Support System (ESS) providing students with 24/7 live help & essay review, and teachers with real-time feedback and intervention tools. Paper partners with districts across North America to close the achievement gap and support educational equity.