What’s available: Resources for kids and familiesMarch 17, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
When Dubois County schools announced Friday they would close their doors until April 6 and move instruction to e-learning, many organized activities for school-aged children followed suit.
That has left many local families in a bind. For some, meals served at school are vital, and reliable internet is not available in all parts of the county. And with after-school programs canceled, there’s not much for kids to do after they finish their e-learning lessons, either, which is the point. Social distancing — the idea behind the school closures and event cancellations — calls for people to stay home as much as possible and to maintain at least three feet (although six feet is preferred) between themselves and other people while in public.
Still, life has not completely shut down. While social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 is a focus at this time, there are resources available to families. Here’s a round-up of what’s available locally. This is not an exhaustive list, but represents what The Herald found on social media and knew of as of this morning.
In Huntingburg, three restaurants have stepped up to help fill the need for food-insecure families.
Dairy Queen Grill and Chill is offering free kids meals at their drive-through from 10 to 11:30 a.m. through March 20 and again March 30 through April 3. Customers will have the choice of chicken strips, hamburger, cheeseburger or hotdog. Meals will include fries, a drink and a token for a kids cone redeemable at any time. There will be a limit of five kids meals per order, and no other purchase is necessary.
“I thought it would be something positive we could do for the community,” owner Jessica Schmett said.
Kim’s Koffee on Fourth Street will offer carry-out soup or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a beverage and a piece of fruit for free to school-aged children Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the school closure.
“We were talking about it and decided no kid should have to go without a meal,” said Ashlie Kerr, one of the owners.
They also thought it would be a good way to give back to the community that has supported their new business, Kerr said.
“We all knew it was going on,” Kerr said. “But we didn’t expect Huntingburg, we didn’t expect Jasper, we didn’t expect Dubois County to shut down.”
Old School Cafe on Fourth Street is offering $5 hamburger kids meals for children age 12 and under during the school shutdown, and is increasing carry-out and delivery services. The restaurant also offers complete meals and soups in half-gallon or gallon sizes. For more information, call 812-683-4392.
In Jasper, Community Chew, a nonprofit that offers a meal and an activity weekly during the summer, will be providing groceries to families throughout the county who need support. To participate in the program, parents should contact CHEW by phone at 812-827-8397 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The weekly grocery supply will include foods children can make for themselves, such as microwavable mac and cheese, and fruits, as well as the supplies for a family meal, CHEW volunteer Anna Grant said. Fischer Farms is donating the meat for each week, and the other groceries are by donation as well. Families in need can pick up the groceries this week at the Jasper Middle School circle drive Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. Next week and the following week, pick up will move to Jasper City Hall where volunteers will bring the groceries to people’s cars. For those who can’t make the pick-up times, delivery is also available.
According to its Facebook page, Dubois County Community Meal will continue offering its service through drive-through only. The organization is open today from 1 to 3 p.m. and Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.
School corporations are offering grab-and-go lunch options during the closure. Parents should contact their child’s school for more information.
With local libraries closed through the end of March, internet options for those without service at home are limited.
“That was probably the most heartbreaking part [of closing],” Jasper-Dubois County Contractual Library Director Christine Golden said.
But she and her staff believed it was necessary to close after the Centers for Disease Control released recommendations to avoid groups of more than 10. With the increased traffic in the libraries, especially among at-risk populations, Golden said her libraries consistently had more than 10 people.
“Every single entity has to do their part to flatten the curve and follow CDC recommendations,” she said.
Golden said wifi can be picked up from the parking lot at the Jasper Annex and Ferdinand, Dubois and Birdseye branches.
Huntingburg Library Director Lisa McWiliams said her library’s wifi also reaches the parking lot.
In letters about e-learning posted to social media, Southwest Dubois Schools listed the following locations as options for internet in the Huntingburg area: League Stadium, Library, 4th Street Huntingburg, Wendy’s, Subway, Old School Cafe and Kim’s Koffee.
However, in his letter to Southridge Middle School parents, Principal Greg Gogel emphasized a need for social distancing.
“Social distancing is still vital in limiting the spread of the virus, and if these locations concern you, accommodations can be made to ensure your student gets their necessary work,” the letter said.
Parents of students struggling with internet connection during e-learning are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher for alternative assignments.
In the interest of social distancing, most activities for children are canceled. However, Erin Rauscher of Yes Power Yoga of Huntingburg offered a Facebook Live yoga class for kids Monday and Tuesday morning that are available to view on the studio’s Facebook page. The classes are geared toward kids ages 4 to 8, but there are some classes posted for adults.
Rauscher plans to post classes every day that in-person classes are canceled.
While the video classes are free, Rauscher has put a donation link on her Facebook page for people to support her business.
Yes Power Yoga canceled all in-person classes Monday and Tuesday following a letter from Yoga Alliance discouraging in-person classes, and Rauscher said she is deciding whether or not to cancel on a day-by-day basis.
County parks also remain open should children want to use them.
“I don’t anticipate us closing them,” Ferdinand Town Manager Chris James said of his town’s parks.
However, he also reminded citizens that the main point of the school closures is to keep children at home.
As of this morning, Showplace Jasper 8 still listed movie times for the week on its website. It also had not posted any cancellations to its website or Facebook page.
Jasper Skate Palace plans to be open during spring break unless state and local authorities require the business to close. Spring break hours can be found at http://jasperskatepalace.com/jevents.html.
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