By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay school district is working tirelessly to prepare its students, staff, families and community for what lies ahead during these uncertain times, said Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld.
Staff announced Tuesday, March 17, the next steps the district is taking to support more than 21,000 students for the unforeseen future – both academically and nutritionally.
“Obviously the safety and well-being of our students and staff, both inside and outside our schools, is and will continue to be our highest priority,” she said. “That being said, because we serve more than 13,000 students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch, we recognize students during closure will not be able to eat if they are not at school.”
The district is currently on spring break.
Beginning Monday, March 23, the district will distribute breakfast and lunch at 12 district sites – 10 elementary schools and two middle schools – for any child under the age of 18.
A full list of locations and times are available on the district’s website at gbaps.org/our_district/coronavirus/meal_sites.
Meals are available on a pick-up only basis. They cannot be consumed on site.
Each child will receive a bag that includes both breakfast and lunch, as well as two milks.
Lynette Zalec, director of food service, said the district plans to serve 5,000 meals per day.
Zalec said parents can pick up meals without their children present.
In regards to alternative learning methods, Langenfeld said with the district being on spring break this week, it puts them a little behind.
“A number of school districts around us have actually been planning this week, but because we were on spring break we have not had that opportunity,” she said. “Our staff have done some preparations trying to determine how we can equitably ensure positive learning experience for each and every child.”
What exactly the alternative learning methods will look like are unclear at this point, but Langenfeld said all options are being explored.
“When staff come back next week, they will have a week to plan,” she said. “Then we will try our very best, with the resources and supports we have to ensure we have a continuity in education.”
Alternative learning methods are expected to begin the following week.
Langenfeld said Spectrum’s offer, to provide at least 60 days of free Wi-Fi internet connection to those in need, will be a huge help in students’ online learning opportunities.
She said district staff is also paying close attention to graduating seniors to make sure they remain on track for graduation and beyond.
Langenfeld said the district plans to file a waiver with the Wisconsin Department Public Instruction (DPI) to waive the state-mandated hour requirements so students will not have to make up missed time.
“DPI will honor our request as this is a public health emergency,” she said.
In accordance with Gov. Tony Evers’ closure mandates, the district building closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday and will remain closed until further notice.
Communications will be distributed to students and families through the district website, social media and direct email.
Langenfeld said all language phone lines will remain open and parents are welcome to leave messages and staff will respond as soon as possible.
These are the district plans through April 3.
Langenfeld said staff is already working on plans if it becomes a long-term closure, as they continue to monitor the situation and respond as new information comes their way.
“These are really unprecedented circumstances, and things are rapidly changing,” she said. “We recognize and are very empathetic to all the difficulties and disappointments people are feeling. This is very real. And we know this is a hardship on so many. So again to our public, to our families, to our staff and students, we ask for your patience as we continue to work collaboratively and collectively together during this public health emergency.”