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Meal program participation strong, preschool to reopen next week

The Batesville School Board conducted regular business virtually due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

The board heard multiple reports from across the district including about the high-participation in the school meal program, plans for the first phase of reopening Batesville Preschool, and how grading is planned for alternative methods of instruction (AMI) work for the final quarter of the school year.

Glenda Haley presented figures detailing how much ground the meal program has gained during the pandemic that has lead to non-traditional means of feeding school children in the Batesville School District.

March 17 was the first date for the non-congregate meal program. On that date, only 680 meals were prepared and delivered or picked-up. The latest data from Friday, April 17 reports 2,600 meals were distributed.

Currently, all meal prep is happening at the high school.

Food service also has a contingency team in place elsewhere in the district working to clean and disinfect other kitchens. The team remains on standby in case anyone from the main food prep team is exposed to the virus or tests positive.

Food service also received two $2,000 grants from GenYouth to offset local expenses, particularly for disposables used to package meals.

“The passion that this group has… they are a walking testament to our mission of Students First,” said Haley.

The Batesville Preschool will reopen, under restrictions to operate only as a childcare center on Monday, April 27.

Preschool administration continues to reach out to the current enrollees about criteria related to the first phase of the reopening, noting that there is no timeframe on how long they will operate under the current restrictions, but the childcare center will work appropriately under guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Education, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

A report was also given concerning how grading and promotion will work within the school district which, as all public schools in Arkansas, has operated using alternative methods of instruction for the duration of the fourth quarter.

Grading for elementary students, grades kindergarten through fifth, will be pass/fail for the fourth quarter.

Students in grades sixth through 12th will receive grades, and teachers will work closely with students to assist them with completion of AMI assignments.

The current crisis has impacted the graduation of the Class of 2020.

A survey of Batesville’s graduating seniors revealed that 65 percent of the class would prefer a traditional graduation ceremony.

Administrators are working to see if a ceremony will be possible later in the summer, possibly sometime in July.

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