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JASPER — The Jasper School District is assisting in feeding its students while classes are suspended during the coronavirus pandemic. School district Superintendent Jeff Cantrell praised the school staff for quickly developing a free meal pickup and delivery program for all students throughout the consolidated school district.

Cantrell addressed the board of education during its regular March meeting Monday night. "I really need to brag on your staff. You really have an awesome staff," he said in reference to the plan developed to confront the COVID-19 emergency. "We knew toward the end of last week that things were changing rapidly and we had to get stuff done. We asked teachers on very short notice last week to get AMI packets 6 through 10 completed so we could them sent out on Friday, just anticipating that something might happen this week." There was no indication that school would be canceled Monday. The governor announced his plan calling for closing public schools on Sunday.

On Monday morning, Cantrell said department heads gathered and developed a meal delivery plan. The plan begins Tuesday and covers breakfast and lunch through Thursday. Deliveries will be made again on Friday and food will be delivered that will cover through the next week which is spring break. These meals are free for any family who requests them. He said it is like the summer meal program. Recipients just have to be 18 years old or younger.

Signups as of the time of the board meeting totaled 321 children serving 76 Jasper families, 24 Kingston families and 37 Oark families. Cantrell said the staff didn't know how many kids would take advantage of the program. "I am very happy with that number, that's about a little more than a third of our kids." This number could climb to the 350 range by the time of the deadline that was 7 p.m. that night, he said, bringing the total number of prepared meals to about 6,000.

There were two ways to request the service. Parents could complete a Google Form link available on the school's Facebook page and website or they could call the school office at (479) 292-3353 until 6 p.m. that Monday.

Meals will be available for pickup on each campus from 8 a.m. -10 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday.

Pickup locations are: Jasper School, back door of cafeteria near the greenhouse; Kingston School's front steps and Oark School's side door of the cafeteria where students unload.

Designated meeting locations, depending on delivery demands are: Jasper, route 1, Mt. Sherman Community Center at 9:15 a.m.; Low Gap Church at 9:35 a.m. and Ponca Elk Center parking lot at 10 a.m.; route 2, Parthenon Church parking lot at 9:15 a.m.; route 3, Mill Creek at the old Kellar Canoe parking lot at 9:15 a.m. and at Gage's convince store and station at the junction of state Highways 206 and 7; route 4, Norton's Store at Piercetown at 9:20 a.m.

Kingston School routes are, route 1, Elkhorn Church at 9:15 a.m.; route 2, the parking lot across from the Dean Church at 9:15 a.m.; route 3, the United Baptist Church parking lot at Marble at 9:15 a.m. and route 4, County Road 2750 right off of state highway 74 at 9:15 a.m.

Oark School routes are, route 1, The gap at the west end of Low Gap and Batson at 9:15 a.m.; route 2, Ozone Church on the east side of Low Gap and Ozone proper at 9:25 a.m.; route 3, Salus Church at Salus, Fallsville, Moonhull and Patterson Springs at 9:30 a.m.; and route 4, McCormicks, all families down the mountain at 9:25 a.m.

If you are unable to pick up at the school or at a designated location and require home delivery, the home delivery vehicles will leave the school at 9 a.m. There must be someone at the home to receive the food deliveries, according to the plan.

Also, the plan outlines cleaning and disinfecting school buildings.

Teachers are also preparing AMI packets 11-20 and turned in to their principal by noon on Thursday. Packets will not go home until after March 30, depending on state orders at that time.

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