There is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic

Cathy Decker/Correspondent
Bill Fleuette, Apollo principal, waves to a passenger in one of the cars lined up for students’ two-week suggested assignments. This is the second round of suggestions for student learning. His advice: “Don’t feel you have to do it all at once. Work about an hour a day,” he said.

ALEDO -- With playground usage banned and schools shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Mercer County Superintendent Scott Petrie says shutdown has not been “all bad”. Two years ago the district started moving towards using on-line content by supplying Chromebook computers on a 1:1 basis for all students in third -12th grades.

“It’s really pushing us to utilize the Internet for on-line content” said Petrie. “They’re doing some great things on line,” he added. While many teachers are working from home, teachers are also stopping by the schools intermittently to copy off content for students who do not have Internet access. Teachers are also staying in touch with their students through telephone, on line and even some home visits.

“Our staffs are really pulling together in this crisis,” said Petrie.

Students were out of school starting March 17 for a planned shutdown until April 7. Due to a governor pronouncement, the shutdown was extended until April 30, but this too may change, depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic tracks.

Meanwhile students are being encouraged to continue learning and the school district is providing free meals three times a week for students requesting the meals.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8 - 10 a.m., district administrators and staff distribute four meals per student to cover two days worth of meals (both breakfast and lunch).  There are five distribution locations with meal preparation happening at the Intermediate School kitchen in Aledo. The four other sites are at New Boston Elementary, Mercer County Junior High in Joy, the Seaton Fire Station and Keithsburg City Hall.

March 18 was the first day meals were distributed, according to food service coordinator Angie Baker. That day 101 students were served, for a total of 404 meals. Numbers have risen sharply with a high count of 187 kids served 748 meals. “They also get milk and juice for the meals,” said Baker. “Most of the time parents pick up the meals,” she added.

The menu is staying as close as possible to the regularly planned school meals.

There are no questions asked and students needing the meals are encouraged to show up or have their parents pick them up. With 1,350 students in the district (approximately 100 kids per grade level) there may be a lot more meals to be served.