TAYLOR COUNTY— On Friday, March 13, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice ordered a statewide shutdown of all public schools for an undefined amount of time, as a precautionary measure against the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since that time, Taylor County school employees have answered the call and are continuing to provide care for students throughout the county.
On the Monday that followed the announcement, all Taylor County schools participated in a feeding program, so that students who were in need, would still be provided with two nutritional meals each day during the closure period.
Teachers, school administrators, cooks, bus drivers and volunteers have been gathering at the designated locations early each morning to prepare and pack breakfast and lunch for their students. The meals are then loaded onto school buses.
The buses depart from the school at 10:00 a.m. each morning and deliver the prepared meals to students’ afternoon bus stops throughout the county.
During the first day of deliveries, Taylor County Superintendent Christy Miller, revealed that approximately 763 students took part.
“It is important for us to provide meals to our students during this time of uncertainty, to provide a little stability to them and maintain a connection to our school system,” Miller expressed.
She also explained that those working to prepare the meals are taking every precaution necessary to stay healthy, revealing that all those who have wished to help with the program must have their temperature checked prior to pitching in.
Additionally, Miller shared that work spaces for each volunteer are spread out to the recommended spacing and that they do their best to main that distance at all times, along with practicing basic personal hygiene and washing their hands frequently.
As the virus made its way to the Mountain State, Miller took further precautions by working her volunteers in shifts, so not to have as many individuals in the area at once.
“We have a lot of students that we worry about where there next meal might come from each day,” she commented. “The fact that the state department was able to get a waiver from the federal department of education to allow us to provide the food to our students, is a wonderful opportunity, but also brings a sense of relief to us in many ways.”
According to Miller, meals will continue to be delivered, as long as they are permitted to do so.
Taylor County Middle School Secretary Amanda Fernatt is one of the many selfless volunteers that has been working to get meals ready for delivery and shared her sentiments on the program.
“It takes a village, and we all love our kids,” she voiced.
Teachers at Anna Jarvis, West Taylor and Flemington Elementary Schools have also been going live on Facebook to read to their students as a way to keep them engaged.
In conjunction with the work of the Taylor County Board of Education to provide meals to students in need, Taylor County Project HOP2E is also doing their part to feed children in the community, offering grab and go lunches for school aged children.
The lunches can be picked up each day at noon, at the organization’s facility, located at 245 Greene’s Plaza.
“With the help of some great people and their donations, we will continue our grab and go lunches throughout the weekend! I would personally like to thank the people who donated to the cause,” said Project HO2PE President Mike Thrush. “In times like these, people coming together for our community truly touches my heart. God bless our donors and volunteers. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”