BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Once Union County Schools (UCS) decided to close school buildings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, school leaders knew they needed to quickly find a way to remotely educate students and feed children in need in the community.
On Friday, March 14, UCS applied and received a school nutrition waiver. The waiver allows UCS to provide meals to children from ages one to 18. They don’t have to be UCS students.
Faculty, staff, and administration worked all weekend, March 14-16, to create easy to understand digital learning environments for students. As well as help each other through any technological-related issue.
“No hesitation with our people,” Superintendent Hill said.
The technology department and police department also delivered 100 wi-fi hotspots to children without internet connection. All students also received a Chromebook to access their virtual classrooms.
Wi-fi can also be accessed at Farmer’s Market, Meeks Park, Reese Farm (next to the store), Union County Public Library parking lot, Burger King parking lot, Chick-fil-A parking lot, McDonald’s parking lot, and Rib Country parking lot.
“Union United and success for all that’s not just our logo, that’s what we do,” declared Hill.
UCS nutrition department, police department, transportation department, and other support staff delivered 2,448 meals on Tuesday, March 17. On Thursday, March 19, they delivered 3,600 meals to the designated pick-up locations across the county. The locations are at the 12 polling stations.
Goodies from the Heart also delivered 500 bags of food to 170 students on the last day of school.
Family Connection Coordinator had the following to say about the program, “Shout out to Audrey Gilliam and the Goodies From the Heart program for packing extra food with just a few hours of notice. Then, Family Connection was able to get that delivered before students went home. Thanks to those who donated food to the pantry. Thanks to Union County Schools Police Department for helping our staff and the school social worker with delivering food to the homes of those without transportation. It’s truly a school-wide and community effort!”
The school delivers two days’ worth of food at a time. Starting on March 23, the pick-up days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
If parents or guardians would like to be added to the UCS meals program, they can still sign up online.
Counselors are also available online for students to offer social and emotional support while everyone does their best to self-quarantine and social distance.
“I was very proud to be a part of a system with those kinds of teachers,” stated board member Cynthia Odom.
Assistant Superintendent David Murphy, custodial department, and some paraprofessionals and nutrition staff are disinfecting and deep cleaning the UCS campus.
The success of these efforts is all down to the faculty and staff at UCS. Hill read letters from staff members about their pride in UCS and its efforts to come together during this time. These statements can be found in the video.
“It’s not that they’re being told or made to do something. They’re a part of it. They’re here on Sunday afternoon. It’s a collaborative thing, that’s something that comes from the top and has to flow down,” board member Janna Akins explained. “It almost brings tears to my eyes the way this has come together. A huge project, but even the big guys are willing to do the littlest things.”
Images courtesy of UCS Facebook page.