Schools plan for possible coronavirus shutdown
Editor’s note: On March 15, Governor Baker ordered all schools to shut through at least April 7. Click here.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood said Wednesday that she and her staff are working to prepare for the impact of the coronavirus as the situation seems to change hour-by-hour.
“Our response will be one of caution,” Shaver-Hood said. “We don’t want to put our students and staff at risk, so we will err on the side of caution.”
Several events have already been canceled, including international night, literacy night, a high school trip to Europe scheduled for April vacation, the DECA international competition, and the Credit for Life event at the high school.
School officials have also begun to plan for a possible shutdown of all schools, which could be mandated by the state.
If the schools need to close for a period of time, the district will still be responsible for teaching students and making sure those who rely on the schools for food can eat.
Luckily, the schools have enough Google chromebooks for all students in grades three through 12 to take one home, along with a charging cable. The teachers in the district already use Google Classrooms, so they would likely continue to use that interface to teach students at home.
However, not all students have access to the internet at home. Shaver-Hood said the school is looking into accessible wifi around town, and is also considering sending packets of worksheets and other materials home with students. Worksheets could be distributed at centralized locations as needed while schools were closed.
Making sure students are well-fed is a priority for the schools. If schools close, packed breakfasts and lunches would be distributed at various locations throughout town in a similar manner to the summer lunch program.
Shaver-Hood said that students would most likely pick up both meals during a set time frame in the morning.
Because Wareham has not had any snow days, students would have to make up the first five days at home. If schools were closed for more than five days, the school year would not be extended beyond that point.
Currently, school officials are focused on keeping kids healthy while they attend school.
“We clean on a daily basis: buses, classrooms, hallways,” Shaver-Hood said. She added that the janitorial teams have stepped up their cleaning routines, and are particularly focused on places like handrails and doorknobs.
The schools have also made sure to stockpile enough supplies to last through a shortage on the market.
Substitute teachers are always in short supply, and, because many are older, they could be hesitant to come to the schools during the outbreak. Shaver-Hood said that she was considering hiring older college students as substitute teachers as many have been sent home from college.
Shaver-Hood asked parents to be vigilant and keep sick children home from school. Additionally, if families are planning to travel, she asked that they inform their children’s schools.
Because the threat of the virus is so unlike anything schools have dealt with in living memory, Shaver-Hood is asking families and community members to reach out with questions, concerns, and ideas -- especially if the schools seem to have overlooked something. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at the school administration’s office, 508-291-3500.
All updates related to the virus will be posted to the district’s website, www.warehamps.org, and can be found by clicking on “Coronavirus Information and Updates” in the “District News” section of the site.