EATON — During a board of education meeting on Monday, April 13, Eaton Community Schools Superintendent Jeff Parker presented several updates on COVID-19-related happenings since the last board meeting.
He explained, he wanted to focus on COVID-19 and the different updates throughout the district over the past month. The last regular board meeting was held on Monday, March 9, which was the day news of the first cases in Ohio broke. Since then, there have been daily updates.
Distribution of food and meals
The district was able to figure out how to provide meals for their students during the week. Throughout this process, Eaton Community Schools has been able to distribute a total of 14,500 meals, and counting.
“We were very concerned, obviously, about many of our students that rely on lunch, and many on breakfast here at school. With us not being in school, how we were going to do that. Schools all across Preble County and the State of Ohio have adapted to that,” he said.
“We have ended up , three times now that we as the school district have distributed meals every Thursday. I think we have it down now to exactly how we want to do it. This past Thursday, we had approximately 550 bags that we distributed. In each bag is meals for five breakfasts and five lunches.
“During that period, we’ve packed and distributed approximately 14,500 meals when you look at it that way. About 1,450 bags have been distributed over those three weeks. One of the things I do want to note is, many many people, everybody does say thank you [and] a lot of people have expressed their appreciation and thankfulness to be able to get that food and help them get through.”
On Friday, April 3, the district distributed 550 Chromebooks and on Friday, April 10, they distributed 59 Chromebooks to students. They also distributed 51 hot spots to students with need of the technology. They still have hot spots and Chromebooks available for all who would need them.
There are tech hours set up on Tuesdays and Thursdays outside the middle school from 9-11 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. where parents can pick up technology needed. They can also contact their building principal for other arrangements.
With the food and technology distribution, there have been approximately 140 different staff volunteers helping with these efforts.
Instruction and learning
Parker recognized teachers for their efforts and hard work over the last several weeks.
“It’s been amazing what teachers have accomplished in the matter of a month. Friday the 13th was our last day of kids in school and today is obviously April 13, so it has literally been a month. Many of our teachers are utilizing Google Meet with their video instruction or lessons, they’re adapting to an area of instruction that they had little to no experience, many of them, some a little further advanced,” he said.
“It’s amazing what people can do and what our teachers have done, in my opinion. Principals and staff have been using it for staff meetings, they’ve been using it for department meetings, grade level meetings, throughout the last, really throughout the last three weeks. I think I noted to you guys, the vast majority of teachers and administrators are working longer hours than usual. Certainly beyond that 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. we’re asking for them to be available for students and parents.”
Teachers have identified students who are participating and those who are not participating in instruction and learning. Many of those teachers and principals are reaching out to families who have not connected to see what assistance is needed.
Hollingsworth East Elementary has 93 percent of students who have connected, William Bruce Elementary is at a similar level, and the middle school and high school are both at approximately 75-80 percent of students connected.
“We’re working our way through that, we’re figuring it out, how to connect with them,” he said. “Bottom line is, our teachers and administrators are working very diligently and mindfully, continuing instruction and learning to the best of their ability. I know it gives the teachers and administrators great concern to think about what many of our students are going through, in addition to not being able to educate them in the manner that we intended and normally do.
“Again, we all know it is beyond our control and all we can do is the best we can. I will echo what I have said to the board and what I hope I have said to the staff, I couldn’t be more proud to be the superintendent at Eaton, given the effort our people have made.”
Additional COVID-19 information
Parker encouraged all to visit eatoncommunityschools.org where there is even more information on COVID-19 and the district’s efforts, including mental health information and resources from the district’s partners. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page the district is updating constantly, covering topics from instruction and learning, to the school schedule, and even information on events like prom and graduation. For any question not covered, Parker urged parents to contact their student’s building principal.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or Twitter @KKimbler_RH