We are asking how COVID-19 is impacting rural communities. Read below for a perspective from Kara Snyder of Grimesland, NC. You can share yours here: http://bit.ly/iaartcovid
G.R. Whitfield School is located in Grimesland, NC and is a part of the Pitt County Schools system. Seated just outside the city of Greenville, NC our community is made up of people from all walks of life, giving each resident the opportunity to create relationships with those who share the same culture and at the same time, enrich their lives by inviting others in who are bonded with a different lifestyle. As a community, we are continuing to rise above COVID-19 together.
Our school has provided thousands of lunches to our students and has even had the opportunity through our community partnerships to supply our students with bushels of locally grown produce. Whitfield teachers have been tirelessly working to create lesson plans, research the latest virtual resources and connect with their students any way that they can. Some of our teachers have even gone as far to send care packages to their students due to the COVID-19 distancing restrictions. Normally, we would be in school with our children learning and celebrating holidays together. However, this pandemic has taken away not only our in person learning opportunities, but it took away Easter, end of the year and summer celebrations. To mend the large hole in our educator hearts, many Whitfield teachers continue to send letters and packages to students while others are still video chatting with their children.
Despite the fact that our community, school and staff have gone above and beyond to reach our children, there were still many pandemic limitations. Our local cable company offered free internet for the last three months of school to ensure that all students would have the ability to virtually finish their school year. However, even with our school loaning out Chromebooks and devices, there were some families that just did not have access to technology. Even those that did still were unable to receive the cable services for one reason or another. Some families had technology and internet access, however, quarantine life for some families just did not include virtual learning. Most of our families still had one or two parents working, which meant that our students were often focused on daily life activities or were unsuccessfully trying to complete online work alone. To try and cure these issues, our county and school implemented the use of distance learning packets. In creating these packets, our teachers would take their virtual lessons and re-create them on paper. Many teachers hand wrote anchor charts, while others created their own assignments and activities for students to learn from. To further help those students who could not participate virtually, our county partnered with a local TV station and created a daily show for students. Local teachers were invited on the show to teach lessons from books that they read aloud. The show also featured physical education teachers who would lead students in some daily exercise and even local school guidance counselors made appearances, talking with students and teaching them how to create some cool crafts while at home.
COVID-19 has presented the entire world with challenges that most of us were not ready to face. However, there is one thing that every educator and staff member was ready for at G.R. Whitfield School and that was to take care of our children in whatever way we could. We will continue to face this new challenge as we approach the 2020-2021 school year, following the safety guidelines to protect everyone and learn just how we are going to be educators this year. Our teachers and staff all share the same sentiment in that we are just ready to be with our students, whatever that might look like.