Commentary By Dr. Derrick Jones Lopez
Superintendent, Flint Community Schools
The Flint community has a long and storied history of coming together to support one another. This commitment to assisting neighbors and friends has been critical throughout the water crisis, and we must continue to demonstrate unwavering support as we face a challenge that is impacting our community, our state and our nation.
The closure of our schools and other services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) must not fracture who we are and what we represent. While we follow recommendations to engage in social distancing whenever possible, we must continue to work together to ensure the most vulnerable are cared for and not ignored.
As we began planning for the temporary closure of schools, I witnessed first-hand school staff, teachers, businesses and community partners teaming up to ensure the well-being of our students and families. This comes as no surprise to those who know Flint’s resiliency.
Student learning “of utmost importance”
While we work together to get through this challenging time, the continuation of student learning is of utmost importance. Therefore, Flint Community Schools is providing standards-based learning packets to students from kindergarten through grade 10, with supplemental online resources also available. Students in grades 11 and 12 will be provided Google Chromebooks and access to standards-based, credit bearing courses through Edgenuity. Our goal is to ensure all students continue to progress and that our seniors remain on track for graduation.
Children must have access to food
In addition to continuing to serve the academic growth of our students, we must make sure our children have access to the nutritional resources they rely on when school is in session. To that end, the district is executing the USDA “Summer Feeding” program model during the time students are out of school, establishing seven food distribution sites [reduced from 24 after the governor’s action–Ed.] across the city of Flint to provide students with breakfast and lunch meals once per day—from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Families who are unable to make it to the food distribution sites can contact their school or the office of Student Services to see if alternative arrangements can be made. [A list of the seven sites is included below–Ed.]
Community collaboration “nothing short of amazing”
All of this would not be possible without those who collaborated to create and execute this plan, including administrators, teachers, staff, union leaders, the Board of Education, CSM Services, First Student, SodexoMagic, Vartek, and the CRIM Fitness Foundation. Their contribution to the health and well-being of our students during this challenging time is nothing short of amazing and reinforces how we can continue to work together even under difficult circumstances.
It’s no secret we are stronger working together than working alone. Whether it’s approving the recent millage, stepping up to develop a plan that will help address a situation that nobody could have foreseen months ago or volunteering to ensure the most vulnerable in our community receive the support they need, I am forever grateful to the Flint community for stepping up once again to support our children and families. In sum, thank you!
Dr. Derrick Jones Lopez is superintendent of the Flint Community Schools.
Editor’s Note: Here are the seven remaining food distribution sites:
Northwestern–G2138 W. Carpenter, Flint 48505
Brownell/Holmes–6602 Oxley Dr. Flint 48504
Berston Field House–3300 Saginaw St. Flint 48505
Potter–2500 N. Averill, Flint 48506
Durant-Tuuri Mott–1518 Third Ave. Flint 48504
Freeman–4001 Ogema, Flint 48507
Southwestern–1420 W. 12th St. Flint 48507