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Teachers, and school staff, are may not be on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic, but their presence is certainly still known by students.

COVID 19 has caused a major disruption to the typical ending of a school year. I have been extremely impressed with the flexibility, cooperation and resolve of our students, parents, and staff to make the best out of a difficult situation,” said Cliff McClure, superintendent of Paxton Buckley Loda CUSD #10

Jeremy Darnell, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent of Schools, said, “The teachers and paraprofessionals are engaging with kids in a multitude of ways to ensure they know they are missed, loved, and encouraging them to stay engaged.”

In fact, he said, “A teacher, Angie Funk, had the idea to raise some funds to provide gift cards to needy families and within three days the district donated $2,750”

At Paxton-Buckley-Loda schools, “PBL teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration have been busy planning and delivering instruction on-line, by paper packets or a combination of both. Teachers and support staff plan the instruction and it is delivered to students electronically or through pickup. They also provide support through many electronic means. Students turn in work electronically or it is delivered back to school or picked up. I have been amazed with the efforts by our staff to prepare the lessons, support student learning and continuously communicate to students and parents. Teacher and support staff work with individuals or in whole groups to support this remote learning. This is being done by telephone, text, email, and Google Hangout meetings. Staff members have gone above and beyond to reach out to students during this difficult time and our parents and students have also been highly cooperative and responsive,” McClure said.

He said, “PBL began remote learning and food distribution on the first day of the shut down on Tuesday, March 17. As a district, we have made it a priority to engage and communicate with our students to ensure their safety, provide them with nutritious meals, and provide them with engaging instructional activities.

“The PBL Education Foundation immediately jumped in to offer assistance and provide needed emergency funding to make on-line access safe and secure for student remote learning.

“Secretaries have also been key in assisting with organization of packets and food delivery, checking in on families, and student attendance.”

Darnell said, “I could not be more proud of the constant effort being made by our GCMS School Community. We are preparing and delivering 1,600 meals for kids weekly for over 200 children. Our kitchen staff, led by Raymond Goin, is finding creative ways to get quality food packed and delivered every week. We have a small army of volunteers, led by Mike Allen, coming in every single week to hand pack and deliver all of the food being provided. 

“The GCMS custodians have been hard at work cleaning, painting, and now preparing for summer maintenance.”

“Our custodial and maintenance crews continue to work with building administration to clean, sanitize, and provide building security during the closure. Cleaning and sanitizing are on-going due to the need of staff needing to access district buildings following CDC and IDPH guidelines to complete instructional remote planning and food distribution. Our maintenance and custodial staff have worked very hard to sanitize our buildings even prior to the closures following recommendations of CDC and IDPH and will continue to do so when in-person instruction continues to provide a safe learning environment,” said McClure.

“Although PBL buildings have been closed for a little over a month due to the Statewide Stay at Home order, the delivery of instruction and food, building cleaning and maintaining and growing relationships between staff and students has not been deterred.

“PBL food service is preparing over 3,000 meals per week for pick up and delivery for 330 students. The PBL cooks, paraprofessionals, administration, and First Student bus drivers have been key in making sure these meals are available each week for those families that desire to participate in this free service. I am so thankful that our staff can provide this necessary service to our children who depend upon these nutritious meals.

“PBL’s Backpack Program continues to support approximately 150 elementary students to provide food for the weekend. Recently the Paxton First Lutheran Church, Upper Room Church, and Richard Meyer have provided significant donations to this program. Haley and Julie Stagen and Olivia Kingren - through donations from their Porch Project also provided a significant contribution to the Backpack Program.

“Our people simply care for kids and are exhausting themselves doing the best they can. I am proud of all of them.” said Darnell.