Ocean Beach School District Superintendent Amy Huntley announced March 18 that the district plans to begin offering meals on Thursday, March 19.

The meals will be delivered along the bus routes once per day, Monday through Thursday, for the length of the closure.

“We are delivering along bus routes so no one has to come to a centralized location to pick up food,” Huntley told the Observer. “So many of our families struggle with transportation or have children who live with older family members and family that might be immune compromised, so we wanted to bring the food to the kids.”

Huntley said that OBSD will be calling families that indicated they would like to receive meals to clarify drop-off times. Those that would like to receive meals but have not yet reached out are encouraged to email district.secretary@oceanbeachschools.org or call 360-642-3739. Spanish-speaking families should call Cindy Guzman at 360-214-4033 or email her at cindy.guzman@oceanbeachschools.org.

On March 20, Huntley told the Observer that 261 of the district’s roughly 1,050 students have signed up to receive meals from the school so far. About 100 of those students have signed up in just the previous 24 hours, she noted.

Huntley also sent out a memo to families on March 20 that clarified Thursday deliveries will also include enough food for breakfast and lunch on Friday. She stressed that some of the food items, such as lunch meat and milk, must be refrigerated to preserve food safety. Foods that have been in the “danger zone” between 40-140 degrees for more than two hours are no longer safe to eat, she said.

Enrichment materials

Additionally, packets of enrichment materials for students, as well as free books, will be available to pick up at each of the district’s school buildings on March 23 and 24 from 9-11 a.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m. Staff will not be on hand to answer questions, and those who cannot come during that time but would like a packet are instructed to call their school’s building. Packets will be delivered along with food next Wednesday for those who request it.

Huntley said that the district is most concerned about high school students that are close to graduating, and that OBSD is trying to find out what barriers those students have to online learning and how a plan can be developed to support the class of 2020. Huntley said that the district has been told that the Washington Office of Superintendent Public Instruction will be providing more guidance on March 23.

Providing childcare

Huntley also said OBSD was following guidance that says school districts “are childcare of last resort for health care workers and first responders.” The families who fit in those categories and need assistance with childcare are asked to call 360-642-3739 and ask to speak to Amy or Barb, or email amy.huntley@oceanbeachschools.org. Spanish-speaking families are asked to call Cindy at 360-214-4033. OBSD hopes to begin providing “very limited childcare” next week.

In a March 20 memo to families, Huntley clarified that any care provided by OBSD would be limited to “at work” time for essential workers during the closure, and would only be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.,Monday through Friday.

Essential workers included in the memo are: healthcare workers (including mental health); in-home or elder care; first responders; and grocery store employees. For those that feel their work situation should also be considered, they are asked to email Huntley or call 360-642-3739.

When emailing Huntley, the following information should be included: names and ages of students; whether you would want care at Ocean Park or Long Beach; names of parents; phone numbers of parents; employers of parents; phone numbers of employers; and hours and days you might need care.

“Childcare support remains our greatest challenge as the situation has changed so dramatically from Friday when we sent out information to our families,” said Huntley. “Guidance from OSPI regarding childcare has been narrowing daily.”

Ilwaco High School Guidance Counselor Sarah Taylor announced that high school students that don’t have a therapist and would like to speak to the school’s mental health counselor during the school closure are encouraged to call 360-227-1672. The mental health counselor, Destini Kirkwood, will call students back to set up counseling appointments via phone during business hours. Students should leave a contact number in their initial call.

OBSD has closed all buildings to public access. During school hours, staff will be available Monday through Thursday to field calls and inquiries at each of the schools and the district office. The district will not have staff available on Fridays during the closure.

For those inquiring about making a donation or volunteering, Huntley said that the district has the resources it needs at this point in time. She recommends donating to local food banks and volunteering at those food banks or helping neighbors that must self-quarantine.

“It is a brave new world we are exploring here, and there is no defined playbook for this, so we are adapting as we go,” Huntley said.

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