By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Schools across Oklahoma have recently closed last week, March16 – 20 for the annual spring break, letting kids enjoy a week off from school to have fun together. Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the state, however, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Education Joy Hoffmeister held a press conference Monday afternoon, March 16, and chose to close all public schools across the state at least until April 6 to help slow the soared of COVID-19.
That does not mean the students will be out of nutrition options, however, as Newkirk Public Schools (NPS) pledges to continue freed the students during the closure.
Also closing for the next few weeks are Kildare, Peckham, Ponca City, McCord, Blackwell and Tonkawa schools.
The move to continue feeding the students is an effort to provide nutrition meals to the students, whether they be low-income, who may be otherwise have access to nutritional meals, or to help parents feed their children during the school day.
“A lot of our parents plan budget during school time, and we want to help them plan this way,” said NPS Superintendent Brady Barnes.
NPS began planning for such a situation at the start of the viral outbreak to be prepared for such a situation, using the help of child nutrition director Robin Johnson and head cook Leana Duncan.
“We’ve done a lot of planning for bus drivers, paraprofessionals, teachers assistants and child nutrition workers,” Barnes said. “They have been very willing to help any way they can.”
The school applied for a seamless summer option grant through the USDA. Through the program, the school will provide breakfast and lunch meals to the students, with all costs, including both food and staff, reimbursed through the USDA.
Parents and students may drive or walk to Newkirk Elementary School’s east door between 9 – 11 a.m. and pick up both breakfast and lunch meals, which will both be cooked that morning. School bus drivers will transport the meals to rural students, including top Braman.
“We’re preparing both meals at the same time, and they can be picked up at the school,” Barnes said.
All students are eligible to participate, and there is no cost to the students.
“We’re trying to do everything we can at this time to help, and it is free for all children,” Barnes said. “Anybody who’s in school, or below 18 can participate.”