Having seen their city deluged under Hurricane Katrina’s 20-foot storm surge, the people of Moss Point, Mississippi, know a thing or two about emergencies.
That might help explain the way this Gulf Coast community of 13,000 is responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
The school district, in particular, has adopted an all-hands-on-deck approach. Since March 17, school buses have been delivering lunch and breakfast – some 9,000 meals a week – to students confined mostly to their homes.
In delivering meals, Moss Point is among a growing number of school districts making sure students get adequate nutrition during the pandemic. Districts from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Estacada, Oregon, and from Little Falls, Minnesota, to Panama City, Florida, also are using buses to deliver meals.
Meal delivery, however, is not all the Moss Point School District is doing to assist a student population that’s predominantly African-American and burdened with a high poverty rate. The 17 school buses cruising through the community also are distributing instructional materials.
“If the parents need a certain grade level, or if they need certain resources from the schools, we have bus drivers, bus monitors, teacher’s assistants and interventionists…They ride the buses and give the students the materials that they need,” said JaLeasa Walden, communications director for the school district.
On March 30, Moss Point schools began offering laptop computers that parents can sign for and obtain in a drive-through pick-up service. The district also has opened its wifi service to the public, allowing parents and students to park at the facility and access the service from their cars.
“We are doing a lot of creative things to keep our school climate healthy,” Walden said.