The impact of COVID-19 has reached a worldwide status, directly including families that are a part of Griffith’s community. The short term closure of Griffith Public Schools presents new challenges for faculty, students, and families during this time of social distancing. Students across all three schools accustomed to available food options for breakfast and lunch would no longer be able to receive those meals. Luckily, Griffith Public Schools acted fast with a plan to continue providing meals for families in need as COVID-19 affects all aspects of livelihood.
A plan went underway for students to continue receiving meals since Griffith Publics Schools started taking necessary precautions to keep students and faculty safe. Any families with children under 18 and younger are eligible for the grab-and-go meals that resumed on March 30th. The meals are able to be picked up at Griffith High School’s door C as a drive-up service only. As meals will be picked up on a drive-up basis, the food will be brought to the individual cars located at door C. In addition, a bus will be driving to specific locations around town where meals will be delivered. The specific locations include Park West Apartments, in front of the office, north and south Clubhouse, Firefighters Park, Divine Properties, Ready Elementary School, City Hall Police Department, Crestview Apartment, Arbogast St, 43rd St., Griffith Calumet Library, and Wadsworth Elementary School.
“We send out Swift Call texts with this information,” said Michele Riise, superintendent of Griffith Public Schools. “We have gotten better with getting this type of information out to families, such as specific time stamps because we have been getting more refined in our food delivery.”
Families should take into account that two out of the five days, the school will serve meals. The meals will be served on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 1:30/2:00 pm. On a pdf flyer, the times for the drive-up service and bus delivery are more specified. The drive-up based service at door C will account for the time between 11:30 to 12:30 pm. The meals distributed through the various bus delivery locations will be between 11 am to 2 pm. Families will be provided with meals for the off days, which makes certain the students will have enough when the school is not delivering. The types of meals provided by the grab and go service will consist of a sandwich, fruit, vegetable, and milk, or something that is able to be heated up. When school is in session, students are offered meals choices such as the ones the school is delivering at this time. The school will continue to deliver to the bus delivery locations until the meals are gone to ensure no food is wasted.
Riise said, “I can not begin to thank our volunteers enough in regards to who have tirelessly come to help prepare and deliver food to our families, but also to the various volunteers who are writing personal notes to the students to place within our packages. As they continue to place themselves in harm’s way with the increased COVID-19, I am very appreciative and proud of Griffith Public Schools staff!”
The importance of Griffith Public Schools continuing to provide for their students should not be overlooked. Every day lives are being impacted by COVID-19 in many aspects that may feel overwhelmingly scary and stressful. Families may depend upon Griffith Public Schools to provide their children meals, so the sudden loss of that could cause more than financial stress. The relief this brings to parents and caregivers that their children are able to receive meals is greatly appreciated. The GPS staff members who deliver the food to the families continue to jeopardize their safety to ensure food is being provided to the students. Those staff members are appreciated alike by the parents and caregivers of the community.
In regards to the response from parents and students, Riise said, “We have been getting both positive and negative responses from both parents and students. More positive than negative; however, as Dr. McCormick and Gov. Holcomb have stated many times, ‘Schools are not to blame for these decisions.’ We ask that all remain positive, patient, and calm as we end the school year.”
As a community impacted by the COVID-19, we can still spread positive and encouraging messages throughout Griffith. An encouraging suggestion for families is to create positive signs and posters in the windows throughout the community. During this surreal time, GPS is doing their part by making it certain the students are being taken care of.