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Watauga County Schools Providing Extra Meals for Students over Spring Break

Watauga County Schools employees Patricia Nelsen and Karen Morris distribute meals at Hardin Park School.

By Nathan Ham

Next week, Watauga County students and staff will be on spring break from April 13-17. Over the break, the nutrition staff will not be serving daily meals as all school facilities will be closed. WCS has planned ahead for that.

This Friday, all children 18 and under who visit one of the sites on Friday will be provided with the regular meal service along with six additional shelf-stable meals for the week of spring break. The extra meals are available to any children 18 and under at any of Watauga County School’s distribution sites regardless of means or enrollment.

“We are encouraging staff and students to take the time with their families and loved ones to enjoy a well-earned break. They’ve put in some incredible work over the past weeks! Our child nutrition staff will not be serving meals over spring break and our facilities will be closed, but we encourage families to come out to any of our meal distribution sites this Friday, April 10 to pick up extra meals for over the break,” said Garrett Price, the director of communication for Watauga County Schools.

In accordance with new health department recommendations, WCS Child Nutrition Staff is also taking extra precautions to protect the health of team members who are making and distributing meals. All staff members will be wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines during distribution.

WCS asks that parents assist with efforts to keep everyone healthy by not coming through the line if you are sick or caring for anyone who is sick, and by not shaking hands or coming into contact with the meal distribution team members. The school system is making every effort to keep everyone safe while also continuing the food program as long as possible.

Lunch and a packed breakfast for the next day is served at Bethel, Mabel, Green Valley, Valle Crucis and Watauga High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dinner and breakfast for the next day is served at Hardin Park School and Brushy Fork Baptist Church, located at 3915 Highway 421 North in Vilas, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you are unable to make it to any of the WCS meal distribution sites, please call your child’s school for more information. For general questions, please call the WCS Central Office at (828) 264-7190.

Remote Learning Updates

As students and teachers continue to adapt to a remote-learning environment, it is looking more and more likely that the remainder of the school year will be completed online. Although Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order stopped in-person instruction until May 15, COVID-19 positive tests are still rising across the state.

According to Price, all high school seniors’ final grades were taken on March 13.

“We are still encouraging them to continue with their studies and to work with teachers to continue learning,” Price says.

Through the remote learning program, Watauga County Schools are also learning more and more about what areas of the county are in need of better internet access.

“Over the past few weeks, we have distributed more than 2,000 laptops to student’s homes — bringing the total to more than 3,800 countywide, but certainly there are areas of Watauga that simply do not have access to broadband internet. When that’s the case, teachers are working with families on a case-by-case basis to provide printed remote learning materials,” said Price. “Our technology team is also doing everything possible to ensure we can get internet access to families when it can be done. We’ve sent home around 70 mobile hotspots with students and have created outdoor wireless access points at all of our schools.”

Price said that the technology team is looking into placing several buses around the county in different locations that will serve as extra wireless internet access points.