Staff supports students through closure
During the stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, Newport News Public School employees stepped up to ensure students were connected and fed. In addition to efforts by teachers and administrators to provide instructional support, employees in child nutrition, transportation, information technology and security were active in support of Newport News families affected by the school closure.
At sites throughout the city, bus drivers, bus monitors and security officers distributed meals to go and instructional packets to families.
School technology employees distributed more than 1,100 Chromebooks and 250 Wi-Fi hotspots to families and helped troubleshoot issues with connectivity for students learning at home.
Superintendent George Parker and the school system’s senior staff discussed how to continue supporting students and families during the shutdown. The need to provide and distribute breakfast and lunch for students was identified. The six feeding sites were expanded to include 17 mobile feeding sites that distributed more than 5,000 meals each weekday.
Yessenia Jiminez-Carrillo, a bus driver participating in the meal distribution, said, “These are my kids, and this is the best way I can serve them.”
Shay Coates, transportation director, said of the staffers, “To see how they have developed relationships with students and parents is awesome. They know how many meals a person is requesting and if they’ve missed a day. They know if a student did the work in the learning packet. They have risen to the challenge and gone above and beyond to care for students and their families.”
According to Jeffrey Nelson, security supervisor, “Greeting them during this difficult time with a smile lets them know they have not been forgotten.”
Cathy Alexander, child nutrition director, commented, “I could not be prouder of our child nutrition staff, security and bus drivers. Within a matter of days, they transitioned from traditional school meals to emergency feeding. I cannot praise their dedication enough! I love watching them in action, getting to know the families coming to their sites. They recognize the cars and know how many meals to provide. Our families are so appreciative. Lunch ladies and ‘school dudes’ rock!”