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Orangeburg leaders weigh in on how to make sure virtual students have access to school meals

Representative Jerry Govan proposes reaching out to local businesses to see if they can donate supplies to be used for food packaging.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — All Orangeburg County students were in virtual learning Thursday and will be again on Friday. However, meals are not being provided for students who normally eat at school. 

State representatives weighed in on what can be done if students have to return to online learning in the future.

“All of us are concerned, when you’re talking about kids not being able to get meals," said Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter. “By the same token, living in a community like Orangeburg that is rural, where we have a lot of farms and row crops and all of that, I just think we have to come together and figure out what needs to be done to solve this.” 

RELATED: Orangeburg students will not get school meals during virtual learning

Representative Jerry Govan proposes reaching out to local businesses to see if they can donate supplies to be used for food packaging. He also wants the State Department of Education to get involved.

“I’ll be reaching out to State Superintendent Molly Spearman to see whatever avenues that we can pursue from the State Department of Education," said Govan.

Officials with the Orangeburg County School District say they have been in touch with the Department of Education, local legislators and food banks to continue food services to students. They say on Thursday, they identified a source for the supplies needed for meals. 

RELATED: Orangeburg food pantry braces for increase after schools can't deliver meals

"While we are grateful to have been offered the opportunity to purchase the food needed from a food bank, unfortunately, in this instance, with a staff shortage due to positive COVID-19 cases and exposures necessitating our district’s short-term transition to virtual, we simply cannot ask of our employees and volunteers to gather and engage with others in the manner that food distribution would require," said Assistant Superintendent for Communications Merry Glenne Piccolino.

Piccolino also said, "We have exhausted every resource to prevent COVID-19 closures of this nature and have appreciated the willingness of our workforce, eligible students and community to become vaccinated, mask, and routinely perform prevention practices. "

The district hopes to return to normal classes on Tuesday.