In response to the pandemic, Oak Harbor School District buses are distributing food and educational material at designated locations, according to school officials.
Four school buses, each containing about 125 meals and education packets, have started delivering to stops near Heller, West Fakkema and Troxell roads, as well as North Oak Harbor Street.
“We tried to centralize the stops to where we could be the most effective,” said Oak Harbor School District Transportation Director Francis Bagarella.
He said the stops are targeted at low-income families who might not have the ability to drive and pick up food at Crescent Harbor Elementary, Olympic View Elementary or Broad View Elementary. The school district has been providing students with free grab-and-go meals in a bag at the three locations since March 17.
Students may pick up breakfast and lunch at the same time. All students are eligible but must be present to receive the meals.
The district plans to keep the bus routes in place for the duration of the mandated school closures, but that could change depending on how the current health crisis develops, Bagarella said.
“Right now we’re going by the state guidance minimum of six weeks,” he said.
He said the district will follow the direction of Gov. Jay Inslee and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“We’re doing everything we can to support our community,” Bagarella said.
He’s urging community members to reach out to the Oak Harbor School District office if routes need to be updated.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the school buses are cleaned daily before each use. A driver, a food service worker and someone who handles the educational materials will be on each bus.
Victoria Lacey handed out optional learning activities, breakfast and lunches in the area from the Bakerview Condominiums to the entrance of the Valley High Mobile Park Home.
Lacey said her bus handed out about 45 education packets and meals.
The extra food items that are shelf stable and unopened will be used again later by the food program while perishables like sandwiches are donated to the North Whidbey Help House.
“We just want to try to get the word out that we are serving our community,” Lacey said. “We’re hoping more people realize we are coming into their area.”