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TCSS serves more than 8,000 lunches during closure

The Troup County School System served more than 8,000 lunches and breakfasts to students this past week while school was closed due to COVID-19, according to the school system.

Although students are not in school, the school system is progressing with its school lunch program from 11 a.m. to noon at nine schools as well as delivery to selected locations by bus.

During a Facebook Live roundtable discussion Monday morning with community leaders, Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said custodians did a deep clean this past week and disinfected all surfaces to get ready for the return to school — whenever that may be.

He said the school system expects the governor’s office to make a statement this week regarding students returning to the classroom. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order on March 13, closing all public schools in Georgia until March 31. TCSS board members held off on deciding about April 1 through April 3 at its most recent board meeting, opting to monitor the situation throughout the week.

“We’re not sure yet, so that’s still up in the air,” Shumate said. “I think we’ll know more as the week progresses, and we’ll certainly keep the community informed of that.”

He said the district’s spring break and graduations are still scheduled as expected as of Monday. Spring break is April 6 through April 10.

On the education side, Shumate said school staff is putting together more content electronically and paper packets for students. Those packets will soon be delivered on the school buses for those without internet access.

For parents wanting to help with their child’s home education, he touted online materials like Khan Academy, which offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard for students. Shumate also suggested problem-solving and board games that are strategic in nature.

“Anything to activate their minds is a good thing,” Shumate said.

For parents who want to reach out to their student’s teachers for advice about how to help teach at home, Shumate said to email the teachers based on their district emails. If a parent can’t find it, Shumate said to call or email the school, and they will get them in touch with a teacher.

“We fully expect our school staff to be on duty during the school day, Monday through Friday right now,” Shumate said. “Meaning that they should be available for questions and email with parents.”

Troup County Board of Commissioner Chairman Patrick Crews said the county courthouse is open because several essential services go through the courthouse. However, he said measures have been taken to protect the staff, and if a person goes to the courthouse, they will be screened.

Crews was asked about the upcoming primary election in Georgia. He said anyone who has already participated in early voting, their vote is safe and secure. However, there are questions about how the statewide election will be handled in May.

“There had been at least some conversation that the county might have to go to absentee ballots for everyone,” Crews said. “Now, for our county, that would probably mean in the neighborhood of 25,000 ballots that would have to be mailed out. So, at this time, the decision has not been made.”

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the city of LaGrange is open, but LaGrange City Hall is closed. He said if someone needs city services, the staff is available by phone, email or through social media.

“We’re doing that as part of the social distancing we’re also doing it to protect our city staff, quite frankly because if of one our city staff were to become infected with the virus, then that could really impede a lot of city services,” he said.