Monday, March 23, was supposed to be the day students in the Parker Unified School District returned to classes following Spring Break. Instead, due to school closures over fears of the coronavirus, it became something of an experiment in how the schools can fulfill their legally-mandated function even if children can’t attend classes.
Gov. Doug Ducey and Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman had ordered the schools be closed until March 27. That closure was later extended to April 10. This left the schools looking for ways to continue their education of students as well as provide meals for them while they were out of school for so long.
The Parker School Board and the district administration talked over some new ideas last week. These ideas started being implemented March 23. The first of these was providing meals for students during the closure. Parents could pick up breakfast and lunch with their children from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the cafeterias at Wallace Elementary School and LePera Elementary School. Meals could also be picked up at the CRIT Fire Station in Poston, MoChem, and across Riverside Drive from the Cienega Springs boat ramp.
Superintendent Brad Sale said they served 337 students on March 23, or about 20 percent of the total students in the district. He said he expects the numbers to increase as word gets out about the meals program. As the program grows, Sale said they will consider more pick-up places.
Another idea discussed was having homework packets distributed to students when they picked up their meals. Sale said some Parker High School teachers had already prepared homework packets, and students could access them by going to their teachers’ Google accounts. If the students or their families didn’t have the Internet in their homes, they could pick up the packets at the PHS Attendance Office.
Sale said packets for all students will be available starting Wednesday, March 25. They can be picked when students’ meals are picked up, or they can be picked up at the principal’s offices in the individual schools.
The school offices will continue to remain open during the closure, Sale said, but they will be on reduced hours. They’ll either be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sale said things went smoothly on the first day.
“We have a good plan moving forward,” he said.