Starting Wednesday, students in the city of Gainesville will be able to pick up meals every weekday as the school year transfers to a home learning set up.
"We planned it since day one to be able to provide meals, the biggest thing the board wanted to make sure was that there was no opportunity left unserved," said Superintendent Jeremy Williams at Tuesday night's board meeting. The board unanimously approved a budget amendment to clean the schools similar to the summer cleaning process, provide the student meals and provide for their hourly staff, all without going over $30,000.
"We needed to free up money to make sure every kid, whether it's a city kid, a county kid, a kid comes to receive meals, we're providing that meal." Williams said the amendment was more of a "just in case" more needed to be done during this situation.
Gainesville City Schools are on a "learn from home" avenue right now as an outbreak of COVID-19 travels throughout the world, the United States, and here in Hall County, with three cases confirmed as of Wednesday.
Students, including those from other school districts or other family members under the age of 18 can pick up meals from one of several locations in the city. The meals will be delivered by bus drivers from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The pandemic doesn't just mean students may not have easy access to meals without school, it also means hourly workers in the school system are worried about how they'll make ends meet. As part of the budget amendment, the board agreed to ensure March salaries for those hourly workers.
"Our intent is to continue to pay them for services that are being rendered," said Williams. He said in the meeting that some nurses who were assigned to individual students were continuing their duties by making home visits, while Speech Language Pathologists are handing student needs online, and others are addressing their students on a case by case basis, whether it be online, by phone or another way.
Board members and staff practiced social distancing at the meeting, giving extra space between each other, between them and the public, and canceling recognitions that typically bring in students and their families to the meetings.