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Somehow, someway … the Prom must go on!

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwestimes.com

 

The Pulaski County School Board held special called meeting this week to discuss various issues arising from the mandatory cancellation of regular classes for the rest of the school year.

 

Classes have not stopped, however, as students continue their studies either by taking instruction online or by doing assignments procured to them in packets prepared by their teachers. Though some new learning material will be introduced, the majority of assignments deal with reviewing the subject matter introduced earlier in the semester.

 

Most secondary students will access their lessons through Google Docs and Google Classroom, but many of the younger students, especially those without internet access, will receive their assignments via the learning packets. Though the plan is to send most of these packets through the mail, for the first day of distribution many of these packets were hand-delivered to the residences of the students.

 

Several school board members themselves were involved in this, as Dr. Paige Cash admitted she visited parts of the county that she’d never seen before. Board member Bill Benson crisscrossed the town of Dublin on more than one occasion in his learning pack deliveries and School Board Chairman Tim Hurst ended up climbing several flights of stairs during his stint as a deliveryman.

 

One of the highest priorities for the school system has been to make sure all students in Pulaski are provided the same meals as they would if they were at school. As of Tuesday, March 24, the school system had distributed 10,000 meals, mostly through food distribution sites located throughout the county. Several meals were taken directly to the student’s homes, but it was determined that this practice would be discontinued as it placed the staff at risk. The worry is that the person delivering the food could be exposed to the virus and subsequently infect other members of the foodservice staff. Though board members expressed their gratitude for community involvement, volunteers will no longer be accepted and PCPS staff will handle efforts to distribute food going forward.

 

To minimize the risk of spreading the infection, food service staff will prepare meals in shifts so as not to have more than 10 people present in the kitchen at one time.

 

The distribution schedule has also changed. Four meals, two breakfasts and two lunches, will be distributed each Monday. Six meals, three breakfasts and three lunches, will be distributed each Wednesday so that a Friday distribution will now be unnecessary.

 

Child care for parents whose jobs are considered essential was also considered at the meeting. While many businesses are closed to staunch the spread of COVID-19, those with jobs in health care, criminal justice, emergency services, the military and many more, including journalists, are still working out of necessity. Since their children are not in school, many of these parents are in need of daycare while many of the daycare facilities are now closed.

 

To help this situation, the YMCA of Pulaski County has offered to fill the gap. The school system will now provide the daycare space, starting with Pulaski and Riverlawn Elementary schools, for children of these essential employees. The YMCA of Pulaski County has agreed to provide personnel to watch the children, while the school system will provide meals and custodial staff. If the need arises, more schools will be opened for this purpose in the coming weeks.

 

These issues are obviously important but a big subject of everyone’s mind was the upcoming Prom and the 2020 PCHS Graduation ceremony.

 

“I’ve had a lot of people, and not just my daughter …  but I’ve had a lot of people ask me if we were still going to do prom and graduation,” said Dr. Cash. “People said ‘Well my daughter has cried and cried and cried because she thought we were going to cancel graduation.’”

 

Pulaski School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers suggested that the dates for the PCHS Prom and graduation could be tentatively scheduled for early June, with the Prom scheduled for Saturday, June 6, and graduation scheduled for Friday, June 12.

 

Siers said these ceremonies could potentially be held in NRCC’s Edward’s Hall or even at PCHS facilities.

 

Bill Benson said that in addition to rescheduling the Prom, he would also like to see the eighth-grade dance set for a new time. Benson suggested that all students from both middle schools could potentially go to the dance to “bring the two schools together.”

 

Other board members expressed concerns about bringing 900 middle school students together from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades together for a dance and after some discussion, agreed to settle for the traditional eighth-grade dance.

 

Siers said that the Prom and the eighth-grade dance could be held in the same room and suggested the Prom be held Friday, June 5, with the eighth-grade dance scheduled for Saturday, June 6.

 

Schedules for both dances and the graduation ceremony are contingent on lifting the statewide ban on more than 10 people congregating in one room.

 

If this does not occur before the end of summer, board member Beckie Cox suggested the possibility of doing a virtual graduation. Cox mentioned how musicians in different locations can now play on the same song together and suggested something similar could take place for graduation, as most seniors owned handheld devices.

 

Board members agreed to consider this possibility if crowd restrictions are not lifted before the next school year.

 

However, the overwhelming sentiment of all board members was to hold the dances and the prom, even if the dates for these events were to be pushed back more than a month.

 

“They worked for 13 years, they deserve a graduation,” said Cash. “Now we have a little ray of sunshine.”

 

“So is our stance that we’re going to do prom and graduation, as long as we’re going do it before the start of the next school year,” Siers asked the board.

 

“Yes,” said Benson. “We’re not starting till after Labor Day, so we could have a September prom.”

 

As it stands now, the PCHS Prom is scheduled for Friday, June 5, with the eighth-grade dance occurring Saturday, June 6.

 

The Pulaski County Graduation ceremony is currently scheduled to occur Friday, June, 12.

 

These dates are tentative and subject to change depending on the situation.

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