School staffs step up during summer for students, families

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s often said a teacher’s work never stops.

And despite more than two months out of the classroom to end the school year because of the coronavirus outbreak, that adage may be eve more true this year, with teachers and school staff called on to do more than ever for students and their families.

For example, May 27 may have been the last day of the school year for students attending Fayette County Public Schools, but the district’s staff continues to provide services ranging from feeding students and families, to supporting access to technology and providing mental health services, to offering expanded learning opportunities, the district said in a release.

“We serve the needs of the whole child,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “Our primary business is education, but we recognize learning cannot occur at high levels unless the basic needs of students are met. During these unprecedented times, we had to find new ways to support our students and families.”

While schools across Kentucky were closed in support of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, educators continued to keep students engaged in learning through Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI), the district said.

During this time, economic conditions worsened for many students and their families and schools saw a related increase in requests for food, mental health support and access to technology, according to Fayette County, mirroring problems schools across the region witnessed and have been trying to combat.

Between March 16 and May 27, Fayette County schools provided support to students and families in the following areas:
• Food: 365,939 meals were served to children and youth.
• Mental Health Services: District Mental Health Specialists made 27,030 contacts with children and youth.
• Basic Needs: Family Resource and Youth Service Center (FRYSC) professionals distributed 27,700 backpacks including food, cleaning supplies and hygiene products to students and families;
• Technology Access: 19,658 students and 1,686 staff members utilized, and continue to use, district-provided Chromebooks. Internet hotspots were distributed to 433 families.

The needs of students and families have continued beyond the official end of the school year, so the support provided students and their families has continued in order to meet the demand.

Meals are distributed twice a week at 21 locations for anyone who is 18 years old or younger.

District mental health specialists remain on call and available to work with children and youth, Family Resource Youth Service Center coordinators continue to work with families in need, and the district Technology Help Desk remains open to support students participating in summer learning opportunities.

The face of summer learning opportunities has also shifted in response to current restrictions on face-to-face instruction, according to the Fayette staff.

Students from each preschool, elementary and middle school can now access Summer Bridge, an online learning opportunity powered by Imagine Learning, designed to help reduce math and language literacy learning gaps.

Students who scored below the 40th percentile on the winter MAP testing can receive additional focused support from a teacher during the summer sessions, which begin today.

“The mission of the Fayette County Public Schools, even when we are not physically together in a classroom or school building, is to create a collaborative community that ensures all students achieve at high levels and graduate prepared to excel in a global society,” Caulk said. “Achieving our mission requires us to ensure our students and their families have access to food, mental health services and other basic needs as a foundational building block of their educational experience. We will continue to meet the demand of our students and families.”

Information about resources available through Fayette County Public Schools including free meal locations, support for mental health needs, FRYSC contact information for basic needs referrals, health care and tech support is provided on the FCPS website’s COVID-19 information page.

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