Pascagoula-Gautier School District - Pandemic Partnership Response

Pandemic Partnership Response: Governor's Award of Distinction Level

Nothing could have prepared the Pascagoula-Gautier School District (PGSD) for COVID-19 and the shutdown of our schools on Monday, March 16, 2020. That’s when our work began in earnest. Backpack Buddies contacted us since 100 percent of our children get free and reduced lunch and depend on free breakfast and lunch. Backpack Buddies supplements that by providing meals for children on the weekends.

A message was sent to teachers asking for help in getting food out to the children and 40 showed up to pack up meals for delivery to those in need. Child nutrition workers packed lunches serving 187,000 meals to students from March until May. Teachers and support staff came to school to distribute grab and go meals for students. District law enforcement officers, Pascagoula Police and Gautier Police helped by directing cars on where to go in the long lines to receive meals. Bus drivers delivered food by bus to those who had no transportation to come to the schools for meals. Administrators and teachers developed work packets for students, making thousands of copies to send home. Teachers came in to hand out work packets to students as well as get Chromebooks so school could continue at home.

Teachers began distance teaching with their students and driving through neighborhoods in parades to show their students how much they were missed. A total of 723,531 parent contacts were made by teachers to check on students and their families March-May, 2020, all documented in School Status. Our College and Career Technical Center used 3-D machines to make masks, and custodians began deeply sanitizing schools. Virtual Class Nights and high school graduations were held with photos taken of each graduate and family as a keepsake. During June, on-field graduations were held with social distancing. Teachers recorded 2,292 instructional videos which were loaded to the district website and YouTube channel for students. The district’s technology department hosted its first virtual Tech Camp for Teachers.

The Superintendent visited 431 third graders’ homes traveling 465 miles, stressing the importance of reading and delivering books in support of the Third Grade Reading Gate. During the summer, administrators began cranking up for the new school year, processing in new employees, setting guidelines in place for teachers and students, bus drivers and child nutrition staff, registering students and getting classrooms ready to welcome back students.

School nurses worked to obtain thermometers to scan everyone’s foreheads before entering the school. Transportation directors worked to get equipment to spray down buses between each route and hiring extra drivers because of limited seating on buses. In the weeks before school began for the 2020-21 school year, help for our district began to pour in. Chevron, Jackson County Fab Lab and Mississippi Power delivered hundreds of masks for teachers and students. Elks Lodge 2501 donated $3,500 for uniforms. Keesler Federal Credit Union and Andy Citrin Law Office and American Legion Post 160 donated hundreds of student backpacks. Carver High Alumni Association donated money to help teachers obtain their Donors Choose grants. Jackson County CASA donated school supplies. Lowe’s donated thousands of masks, hand sanitizer and bottled water. Gulf Coast Business Supply rallied donors who gave the district masks, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. Dr. Keshav Mangal, a retired local veterinarian, donated $50,000 for COVID-19 relief supplies which was used to purchase plastic barriers between desks for students, new water filling stations, hand sanitizer and masks. District maintenance workers worked tirelessly to get supplies out to schools. Singing River Health System helped the district with templates for COVID-19 restrictions and precautions to share with parents, students and staff and also with the community due to limited access of
visitors to schools.

Community Partners: William Carey University, Chevron, Dr. Keshav Mangal, Jackson County CASA, Jackson County Fab Lab, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Lowe's, Mississippi Power, Andy Citrin Law Office, Singing River Health System, Gulf Coast Business Supply, Carver High Alumni Association, Backpack Buddies, Gautier Police Department, Pascagoula Police Department, American Legion Post 160, Pascagoula Elks Lodge.