School buses delivering lunches to students while they learn at home

COVID and the Classroom
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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Yellow school buses are still making their daily rounds. A familiar sight in these uncertain times, even if there are no students on board and the classes are all virtual. 

“Over 90 percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch because of the income levels of the families,” says Arthur Culver, Superintendent Schools East St. Louis School District 189. “We have 26 buses that are delivering meals daily. We have 26 bus routes and the school sites… Parents come in and pick up the food daily.” 

Around East St. Louis School District 189, the teachers are in their classrooms. But the students are in their third week of classes online, and normal breakfast and lunch that’s provided at the school, is still being provided at the school. 

“We still want to make sure our daily schedule mirrors what they would see if they were here Monday through Friday and that includes breakfast or lunch,” says Maria Burton, principal at Dr. Katie Harper Wright Elementary School. 

The district is maintaining its free breakfast and lunch program. Sending big yellow buses out into the community daily. Feeding the body, they’re also feeding the mind with the right technology. 

“We provide one-on-one Chromebooks to our students and we also have hot spots available to those students or families who do not have internet services,” says Burton. 

“At first when we started, there were a couple of issues,” says Ongelique Kidd, a parent liaison at Dr. Katie Harper Wright Elementary. “But we have navigated through those issues and this is week three and we’ve had a little over 90 percent log-in rate daily. That is a huge, huge accomplishment for the school.” 

Superintendent Arthur Culver says classes will remain online for the first quarter. 

The buses will be out at schools every morning until noon. 

“The buses show up around nine o’clock cause some families must come in early,” says Culver. “We want to make sure if they come early these meals are here waiting on them. You know, kids need that nutrition; it’s so important so they can maximize their learning experience.” 

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