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Roanoke schools give details on meals, learning during school closure

ROANOKE, Va. – With public schools closed for the next two weeks, local leaders are working to make sure kids who are out of school have food and chances to keep learning.

Roanoke city officials gave parents details on Monday.

Meals for students will be delivered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at bus stops, starting Tuesday.

Estimated times and bus stop locations will be posted on the district’s website and Facebook page and parents can also call a hotline at 540-853-1000. Parents will continue to get robocalls about food delivery.

Pickup is available from noon to 1 p.m. at both high schools.

Learning opportunities will start Wednesday.

Elementary school students will get a packet with food delivery or pickup. Middle and high school students will be assigned online lessons through a website they already use with printed copies available.

Specific classes may have other assignments on teachers’ web pages.

The only courses that will be graded are AP and dual-enrollment classes.

From childcare needs to missing work, 10 News spoke with many parents who are struggling during the school closure.

Many feel stretched thin and overwhelmed.

Sharon Brown stocked up on food and supplies Monday morning, saying it’s been chaotic after the announcement that schools would close.

“You’ve got to try to make sure they’re still being educated while they’re at home. You’ve got to make sure they’ve got food, snacks, so it’s a real income pull if you weren’t expecting that,” she said.

She and many parents we talked to are concerned about their children’s education, including Kila Autry, who hopes they can keep learning.

“Definitely. They should definitely be learning. We were just trying to figure out how to do homework,” she said.

They all agree that this is all new territory for our communities.

“This is the first time that we actually have experienced this. It’s been mind-blowing,” Autry said.

Many people are worried about the impact missing work will have them, from losing money to losing their job. 10 News spoke to many parents in northwest Roanoke who are still figuring out what to do.

Many who didn’t want to go on camera say that this is their only choice -- to stay home with their kids.

Day care centers all over the area are closing, and some families don’t have enough support from relatives to shuffle kids from one house to another.

One father says this is all very disruptive to his family.

“Yeah, of course -- school-wise, work-wise, social-wise,” Schneider Fleury said.

Schneider Fleury plays with his kids on March 16, 2020. (WSLS)

In the city of Roanoke, at least three out of every four students is on free-or-reduced lunch. A schools spokesperson said meals are they’re number one priority.

The parents 10 News talked to are also glad the district plans to focus on education.

“They have to get their education. That’s really important, so that really hurts right now,” Fleury said.

Many feel distance learning can never fully replace going in-person.

The city district says teachers will be working in their classrooms, and they can take phone calls on material from students and parents.

A schools spokesperson says they’re not sure if there will be delays to SOL testing. They hope to hear from the state on that topic and on whether there will be makeup days tacked on this year. They think that providing learning opportunities now may mean they won’t have to extend the semester.

The plans Roanoke schools have put in place should continue as long as schools are closed.