Cars lined up for the 22nd annual Project Reach GANG (God’s Anointed Now Generation) back to school rally this past Saturday at midway Middle School. While it was the 22nd year the event was held, it was the first year at a new venue and new format thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We normally have this at the park in Riceboro where everyone can get out and come to the different stations,” Project Reach GANG Executive Director Lavonia LeCounte said. “But because of COVID we were unable to do that, so we decided to do a drive through.”
An estimated 600 parents and students drove through a line of vendors handing out everything a student would need for the 2020 school year.
But Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry, who was at the event, said the plans to reopen on Aug 4, for in-person learning might be put on hold.
“Let me say that when we start school will be predicated on the coronavirus,” Dr. Perry said. “If it develops to the point that we don’t think it is safe for our children then our recommendation to the board will be that we look at some other alternatives. We have already been working on our online programs.”
Dr. Perry said that up until Friday Liberty County was in the moderate category according to the state’s return to school plan.
“Yesterday we jumped into the substantial category which means that, according to the guidelines, schools are supposed to be closed,” he said.
Dr. Perry said The LCSS Board was scheduled to have a regular meeting last night but have also scheduled a Special Called meeting Thursday to discuss the issue and decide on how to proceed.
“Safety is our top priority,” he said. “We want our children to come back, but we have to keep in mind that we can only social distance so much in the schools. If it continues the way it’s going, I’ll just tell you that it doesn’t look good, at this particular time, as far as us doing the traditional school.”
Dr. Perry said the LCSS is prepared for virtual learning and that the LCSS has one to one iPads for all students from K-12. He said the Board just invested 7 million to buy new iPADS to make sure kids had state of the art technology. For students who do not have internet access, the LCSS purchased hot spots to go with their devices.
“We can serve every one of our kids virtually,” he said.
But whether the students learn in class or at home the back to school rally made sure kids were equipped for the upcoming school year.
“Backpacks, papers, pencils, pens…you name it. Anything that you would need for the school year,” LeCounte said. “We also had giveaways for our high school seniors.”
She said they held drawings for laptops and Foot Locker coupons and gift cards. The also held a drawing where 10 educators received $100 gift cards so they could stock their classrooms.
LeCounte said her station had 550 book bags packed and ready to hand out. She said they distributed about 600 lunch meal and had 36 vendors on hand also distributing school supplies and gifts.
“This is so important especially this year with COVID,” LeCounte said. “Parents can use the money that they would need to spend on school supplies and use that instead to maybe pay a bill. The children will be well supplied.”