Pennsylvania schools will be out of session until at least April 9 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the teachers and staff of the Athens and Sayre school districts haven’t been working hard to support their students.

Both Athens Superintendent Craig Stage and Sayre Superintendent Dr. Jill Daloisio praised their staffs for stepping up during this crisis.

“They are staying connected and that’s what we’ve asked. It’s been overwhelming. Every teacher has come out and they have voluntarily tried to keep connected with their students and parents by providing the resources,” Stage said.

Stage explained that once the school closures were announced by Gov. Tom Wolf, his staff made sure to give parents and students information needed to continue learning at home.

“We had a day the Sunday before we were mandated to close and teachers volunteered to come in and prepare packets and be available to get stuff out of their classrooms and lockers, so that kids could go home with their supplies if they needed them,” Stage said. “I have heard several stories of teachers even going so far as driving out and delivering those packets of materials for review, practice and enrichment to the homes of these students. It has been remarkable.”

Both school districts are also providing meals to students during the closure.

“We have teachers and support staff that are willing to come in on their own time and hand out lunches. Our lunches are including breakfast for the next morning. We have averaged around 265 (lunches) a day,” Daloisio said.

Stage had a similar story.

“It’s been phenomenal — again, it’s been our staff stepping up to the plate and taking care of the people who matter most to them, which is the community members and their students,” Stage said. “We’ve got a great partner in CHOP (Child Hunger Outreach Partners) and our teacher’s association have gone to pack (food), they’ve loaded vans, they’ve distributed, they hold pop-up pantry events, I can’t be prouder.”

Stage hopes the community understands how much the teachers have done during this time, but he also pointed to the generosity of the entire Valley when it came to helping the school district during this time.

“I mean this community should really be thankful for the staff and, you know what, let me also say this community is remarkable. I have probably gotten three dozen to four dozen phone calls saying what do you need? I’m talking businesses, I’m talking parents, I’m talking organizations, restaurants, churches ... anything you can think of, they have called and said ‘hey, we are here.’ They have all called and said ‘what do you need from us?’ It’s been pretty outstanding,” he said.

Daloisio is in the midst of her first year as superintendent in Sayre, but she has already learned that this community steps up during difficult times.

“(People) have consistently said to me over the course of my time here that this is the little school with the big heart, and it has shined through,” she said. “I can’t ask for a better staff ... (they are) supportive, helpful, (always) reaching out and looking forward to make plans for our students and the community as well. It has been wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or editor@morning-times.com. Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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