Free meals

Jamie Johnson, left, and Bridgett Rogers get ready to hand out free meals Friday morning at Vinemont.

The Cullman County School System has given away thousands of free meals over the past week, and now that schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, those meals will continue after spring break.

Schools were set to resume as normal on April 6, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s new order on Thursday ended in-school instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Free breakfasts and lunches have been given away to any child in the county who is 18 or younger over the last two weeks, and there were more than 12,000 meals given away just this Wednesday, said Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette. 

The meals have been given out from 10 a.m. to noon at Fairview High School, Good Hope High School, Hanceville High School, Harmony School, Holly Pond High School, Vinemont High School and West Point High School. 

Next week is spring break for county students, so meals will not be distributed, and the plan is to continue giving out meals on the same schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays once spring break is over, Barnette said. 

Now that the state has closed schools for the rest of the semester, school systems are also working to implement new instructional plans so students can continue their educations at home. 

Barnette said he and the county’s principals are already at work devising a plan to make sure students get the proper instruction, and every school system in the state will submit their plans to the State Board of Education next week. 

He said that plan will likely include online instruction for students who have access to the internet and take-home packets for those who don’t, and schools will begin sharing more information about their plans with parents before the end of spring break. 

“We feel good about it,” he said. 

Teachers and principals have been staying in contact with their students through video chats and social media updates, and that will continue on a more regular basis once school resumes on April 6, he said. 

Barnette said the governor’s order prohibits any in-person school activities until June 5, and the system will work to have graduation ceremonies and maybe proms for county students if it is possible by then.

He said the seniors have worked too hard during their time in school to not be recognized for completing high school, and he hopes they will have the opportunity for a graduation ceremony.

“If we can work it out, I’m open to have a graduation,” he said.

Barnette said details for each schools’ plans are still in the works, and there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered, so he asked for families to have patience over the next week while everything is finalized.

“We’re going to make it work,” he said. 

To keep everyone up-to-date on the latest information, Barnette said he will use the system’s all-calls to reach out to parents, and updates will be posted at the system website, ccboe.org, and on its social media pages.

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