NORTH LOGAN – On Monday, Governor Gary Herbert, in conjunction with State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson, announced that public schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade will extend their soft closure through at least May 1st. Meal services will also be extended during the dismissal. The governor also announced that all technical colleges throughout the state will cease instruction from March 30-May 1.
Beginning Monday, the Cache County School District began delivering free breakfasts and lunches for students within their district. Cache County School District Superintendent Steve Norton said the district is utilizing its staff of bus drivers to deliver the meals to regular bus stops.
“We thought, what a wonderful way to have our bus drivers continue to drive for us,” Norton explained. “That way, parents who found it difficult to get to our individual schools and our lunch portals will have it delivered right to where students would normally get on the school bus in the morning when school was in session.”
Buses will arrive at their first bus stop at 11:30 a.m. and will continue their regular afternoon elementary routes. The meal delivered daily will be a lunch, accompanied by a breakfast for the next day. School lunches will also continue to be made available at school sites from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. For additional information about the district’s current meal program, visit www.ccsdut.org/grabandgo.
Through this process of adjustment to online learning, the district has learned a lot in a short period of time. Chief Academic Officer and Chief Information Officer Tim Smith said this dismissal has allowed the district to be innovative and will help in future disruptions.
“This has definitely given us some opportunities to see what we could do that we might not otherwise be able to do,” Smith said. “Snow days is an example. I don’t see that we take another snow day. We can provide the information online.
“I’ve been amazed by how fast our teachers have pivoted to an online system and how quickly they’ve adapted and been innovative.”
“We are seeing some teachers just absolutely soar with this opportunity to provide instruction outside of the classroom,” Norton added. “We think we’ve got kids excited about learning at home.”
Norton said the district appreciates the cooperation from parents in the district to make this all work. While it may be anecdotal, Norton said the feedback, so far, is that distance learning is working.
“We do believe that it has been very successful, that homework is getting done,” he explained. “If anything, we may be in some instances put too much homework out there. We’re kind of trying to gauge and the individual teachers are making those decisions.
“We are asking for feedback from our parents. We want to know how the kids are holding up under this system, whether we’re requiring too much or not quite enough.”
Transitioning dozens of schools, nearly 1,000 classroom teachers and nearly 19,000 students from traditional classrooms to strictly online learning in only a few short days was a herculean task, but Norton recognizes the hard work, sacrifice and dedication it took from everyone to make it happen.
“That’s the fantastic part of this whole thing. In a period of about three days we turned a system from brick and mortar instruction into one that is using all kinds of modalities in order to instruct kids at home,” he said. “It has just been something that some teachers have probably been bottled up and waiting for, they’r soaring and flying and having all kinds of interactions with their kids and coming up with all kind of creative ways to let them know they are missed, that they’re loved and they’re safe and they will continue to get a great education through all of this.”