MCPS Superintendent on School Closures and Meals for Children
With MCPS students out of school for an additional week after Spring Break, there have been some questions about how families who depend on free or reduced fee breakfast and lunch will still be served.
Superintendent Rob Watson said that he saw the handwriting on the wall about the extra week off early in the process.
“It’s been very unpredictable,” said Watson. “Obviously, we knew that we would be out for Spring Break, but we didn’t quite know what would happen after that, but just watching the national news you could see some of the expectations from other states to self-quarantine or self-isolate using social distancing, so there were lots of discussions at the national level about school closures, so I guess it wasn’t completely unexpected, but we weren’t sure what it was going to look like and when the announcement was going to be made.”
Watson said when it came to making sure students could receive their meals, Spring Break came along just at the right time.
“If there was a silver lining to the situation in Missoula is that we did have Spring Break this week,” he said. “Even during Spring Break there are options for kids that are offered through the Missoula Food Bank, and we’re really thankful for their help. This week gives us the chance to prepare for what we’re going to do next Monday, which is to figure out how to make sure that our students are still getting access to food.”
Watson said the coronavirus emergency has made it possible to bypass some state and federal red tape.
“In light of the situation, we’re allowed to lift the requirements around food service, so students don’t have to qualify for free and reduced lunch to receive free food next week and in the coming weeks, so we’re allowed to lift some of those requirements around free and reduced lunch status, and so the food options will be open to any kid that needs it next week, regardless of their free and reduced status.”
The Food bank offers free meals to students at Travois Village from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon on weekdays, at Futura Mobile Homes from 12:00 noon to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays and at the Empower Place at MFB and CC with breakfast from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Wednesday and Friday, Lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Weekdays and Supper from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only.