Alamance-Burlington Schools to offer lunch throughout COVID-19 closures

Alamance-Burlington School System Superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Angela Bost, and ABSS Board of Education members Allison Gant and Brian Feeley met with the media at Southern Alamance High School on Monday, March 17 to discuss the school system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Roy Cooper's directive that all North Carolina schools be closed through April 6. ABSS will be offering lunch services at 20 facilities starting on Tuesday, March 17. More details are available on the ABSS website https://www.abss.k12.nc.us/.

On Monday, Alamance-Burlington School System Superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson held a press conference at Southern Alamance High School, where he explained the next steps for ABSS following Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order that all schools in North Carolina be closed for the next two weeks in order to help slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Benson indicated that ABSS schools and district educators have implemented plans for continued instruction for the next two weeks for elementary, middle, and high school students. Laptop computers were distributed to high school students across the district, while middle and elementary school students were provided packets of school information to work on at home. The school system is also provided a limited number of MiFi hubs for families who do not have internet access.

“We began planning for continued learning opportunities before the shutdown was mandated,” Dr. Benson explained. “We were well-prepared to implement our plans when we got the Governor’s executive order. We were able to send some packets home with elementary students at the end of the day on Friday. So we’re a little bit ahead of the game there, I think.” 

Twenty ABSS school cafeterias opened beginning Tuesday, March 17 for a free nutritious lunch for Alamance County children ages 18 and under. This special “Grab and Go” meal opportunity will be available each day Monday through Friday for this week and next week because of the mandatory school closure.

The 20 schools are Andrews Elementary, B E Jordan Elementary, Broadview Middle, Cummings High, Eastlawn Elementary, Garrett Elementary, Graham High, Graham Middle, Grove Park Elementary, Hawfields Middle, Haw River Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Newlin Elementary, North Graham Elementary, Pleasant Grove Elementary, Ray Street Academy, South Graham Elementary, Sylvan Elementary, Turrentine Middle, and Williams High. Children may visit any one of the 20 sites to participate.

The pick up lunch for Alamance County children ages 18 and under will be available between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. through Friday, March 27. Eating in the cafeteria will not be permitted--this is a pick up and take with you option only. There will be signs at each school directing visitors to the cafeteria. Thank you to our ABSS School Nutrition Program for making this opportunity available to our community.

“It’s a rapidly-evolving situation,” Dr. Benson said. “As late as Friday afternoon, we were on a conference call with other Superintendents across North Carolina. And at that time, the recommendation from the Governor’s office was there wouldn’t be preemptive closure of schools. 24 hours later, we were closed.” 

Benson suggested that the school closures could very well extend well beyond the April 6 date that was initially set in place. The ABSS front office in Burlington will remain open throughout the shutdown period in order to answer questions, provide support for the community, and to work with the local and state Health Departments. 

“I do want to say to our community that while we’re looking at a two-week closure right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being an extended closure,” Benson said. “I think it’s important for our community - our parents, our students - to prepare for that. Our main focus is to ensure our high school students continue to be supported in earning credits, so that they stay on track for graduation.” 

“This is an extremely challenging time for public education,” Dr. Benson continued. “But we are more than prepared to meet the challenges head-on. Our educators are focused on doing what’s best for children, and the families we serve.”