It felt like the last day of school Monday, as parents and students came by Lake View Elementary in Madison ahead of schools being closed statewide for the next three weeks to prevent further spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
“Yeah, I’m just surprised how quickly things have progressed to there’s no activities, then there’s no school, and just how quickly the COVID-19 has spread to so many people,” said district parent Sarah Davis.
Last week, Gov. Tony Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to close all schools after Wednesday, March 18, but many districts pre-empted that deadline for an earlier one.
“Really, all we’ve been told is it was closing today and won’t be opening ‘til April 6,” Davis said.
Lakeview Elementary Principal Nou Vang-Vou spent Monday assisting parents and students to collect what they need from the school.
“Families can come in to get any kind of supplies that they need from the classrooms or from their child’s locker. And then fifth grade students and families are welcome to come and get their Chromebooks to then take home and engage in enrichment activities at home while school is closed,” she said.
The enrichment activities are strictly voluntary. For the most part all instruction will come to a halt.
“After six o’clock today, this building and all buildings within our school district will be closed. And so even myself and my staff will not have access to the building,” Vang-Vou said.
Sarah Davis and her two sons, Liam and Micah, stopped by the school for lunch. Last year, a daily average of more than 471,000 meals were distributed through the Wisconsin school lunch program.
Even with school doors closed, many districts are still distributing food daily.
“It actually helps a lot, just because none of us was prepared for this,” said Kelly Dickens, another district parent.
With an abrupt closure of schools, families that rely on schools for meals and childcare are forced to find alternative solutions. Vang-Vou said the district is working on those details.
“Our district leaders are coordinating and collaborating with our community organizations to figure out like what will that look like?” she asked.
“Not having schools for that long, it’s going to be difficult,” Davis said.