APPLEGATE: Community appreciation during the coronavirus shutdown

Published 8:55 am Saturday, March 21, 2020

With the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causing the governor to close schools and restrict gathering at restaurants and public facilities, we are in the middle of a historic moment for our community, our state and our country.

As of this writing, Niles Community Schools will be closed until April 13, pending any additional orders from the state. While we continue to work through the many hurdles that the coronavirus closure has caused, Niles Community Schools wants to thank community partners for helping us navigate these tough times together.

When Gov. Whitmer ordered all K-12 schools to close, school districts throughout the state worked around the clock to make sure that students and staff received the support they would need during the closure. While education was the first thing to come to mind for many people, there are other important factors that school districts needed to address.

Many of our students rely on the school district’s free and reduced lunch program as one of the guaranteed meals that they will receive during the week. At Niles Community Schools, we worked with our food services department and our community partners to have breakfast and lunch available for all students — we were even able to accommodate meals for Saturday and Sunday. These meals can be picked up throughout the week. Full details including where to pick up meals are available on the Niles Community Schools website.

Soon after the closure was announced, our teachers began working to create instructional packets for students to continue their academic development. Even though students will not physically be in the classroom and will not be studying their traditional coursework, we don’t want to let this valuable time slip away and lose the momentum that has been built since the beginning of the school year.

We want to thank our teachers for their hard and timely work putting together these instructional materials. Their dedication to our students’ education is incredible and will help our students stay on top of their studies.

In addition to ensuring students have access to nutritional meals and learning materials, the Niles Community Schools Board of Education has approved paying all full-time district employees during the unscheduled school closure. The board has also begun making preparations and allocating funds to guarantee the costs associated with this shutdown are covered.

We often forget that serving on the board of education is a volunteer position that requires a substantial time commitment, so I am extremely grateful for their leadership and their commitment to the Niles community through this situation and throughout the school year.

As we know from reading and listening to the news, circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 situation change rapidly. We are doing all we can to plan for both the short- and long-term, and appreciate the community’s patience as we sometimes take longer than desired to provide updates on this matter.

That said, any pertinent updates will be sent via School Messenger, email and posted on our website and social media, so please monitor those channels for more information moving forward.

We are grateful for the support Niles Community Schools receives from the community, but during these difficult times, we feel especially fortunate. We want to thank our community members who have stepped up to help the district and our families. We will continue monitoring the developments of the coronavirus and plan accordingly in partnership with local, state and federal health and government officials, and keep you informed along the way.

Stay safe and go Vikes!