Government Schools

West Hartford Superintendent: ‘Grab & Go’ Meals to be Offered While Schools Closed

West Hartford Public Schools Nutrition Services will be handing out grab and go meals beginning March 16. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Public Schools will be closed for at least two weeks beginning March 16.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Superintendent of Schools issued an update to the community Friday, as the town’s schools shuttered for at least the next two weeks as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“As this whirlwind week comes to an end, I want to thank you for your patience and support as we navigate the new reality created by this pandemic,” Moore said in his letter. “Now is the time for us to come together, as a community, a state, and a country, in an effort to not just lift each other up, but to all do our part in an effort to ‘flatten the curve,’ and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as much as possible, from this day forward.”

There are many questions that families have about how the school closure will be handled, and Moore said he will be addressing many of those issues in the upcoming days.

One major question – providing food for families – was addressed in Friday’s communication.

Shelf-stable milk will be included in grab and go bags. Courtesy photo

Beginning Monday, West Hartford Public Schools Nutrition Services will begin providing grab and go breakfast and lunch meals to students. Approximately 27% of students in the district qualify for free or reduced lunch, but there is no income requirement to receive these meals, which are being provided through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Roszena Haskins, director of Diversity Advancement.

“It’s free for everyone,” Haskins said. “It’s something we’re doing and we don’t want to single anyone out. Anyone who wants or needs it gets it.”

Bagged meals will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., beginning Monday, March 16. Pick-up locations are Bugbee Elementary School, Braeburn Elementary School, Charter Oak International Academy, Conard High School, King Philip Middle School, Whiting Lane Elementary School, and at the Hillcrest Avenue Neighborhood Outreach Center for students who live in that neighborhood.

More information, including the contents of the bagged meals, is provided as a PDF below, in English as well as in Spanish, as well as through this link: WHPS Grab & Go Meals and Community Food Programs which also includes resources for families to access the town’s food pantry and Foodshare.

Click the following newsletter link for West Hartford School Meals & Food Programs. To translate the newsletter into your preferred language, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Translate” to select language.

“These Herculean efforts will result in many of our kids’ and families’ most basic needs being met,” Moore said.

In Friday’s letter, Moore also urged families to appreciate the serious nature of the advice to avoid large groups and close quarters – to understand the importance of social distancing.

“We are relying on our parents now to help their children to make good choices,” he told We-Ha.com.

“It is not my job to tell anyone how to parent, but we took the extreme step to close our schools, as did colleges and universities, in an effort to stop or slow the spread. This does no good if people host large parties, or if our kids are hanging out in large groups, and going out together in these groups, increasing the chances that they are spreading this virus to those who can least afford to get it. Please help us, as a society, by sending the message that this is serious, and what used to be the norm just can’t be for the foreseeable future,” Moore’s letter states.

Other questions – regarding April vacation, distance learning, and other issues – will be addressed in future communications.

The situation with this pandemic is fluid, changing from minute to minute, he said – and that includes determining when schools might reopen. Two weeks is an “absolute best case scenario.” He is assuming that schools will remain in session through June 30 – which is the latest possible date indicated in the governor’s Executive Order issued Thursday.

“We have been planning for this diligently, and I assure you that my team is not caught flat footed in any way. As I said, we were hoping for the best, but hope is not a strategy,” the letter states.

Plans for “distance learning” will be communicated by Assistant Superintendent Paul Vicinus and Director of Pupil Services Gretchen Nelson next week, and discussions have been ongoing with teacher’s union leadership to coordinate what form that will take.

“Now it is the weekend, and it is time for all of us to exhale. My central office team and I will be working throughout, as will our administrative leadership and office staff at our schools, or remotely if necessary at some point. Our schools will be undergoing cleaning in accordance with CDC recommendations, and will be closed, so please call your school before you go there to see if it is appropriate,” Moore said in his letter. 

“I think it is important that this weekend, we spend time with our families and absorb our new temporary reality. The Moore family will begin (re-watching for my wife and I) ‘The West Wing’ with our kids. If you are looking for a good book, this site lists many open source materials, which are free https://www.google.com/amp/s/ebookfriendly.com/free-public-domain-books-sources/amp/. This tumult has brought my family under one roof again, and I will treasure our time together. Please take care of yourselves, and know that I will continue to communicate regular updates throughout this time period,” said Moore in his letter to families.

Moore said he knows that his decisions won’t be popular with everyone, nor will parents’ decisions to restrict their kids’ activities. But what’s most important, he said: “Just do the right thing.”

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