In this time of national crisis, it is more evident to everyone that rural schools are rural communities. While schools are closing, rural schools continue to deliver meals to school children via bus and drop off points called “grab and go.” They are also dropping of educational packets. Online education, in areas where broadband is available, is bring school into the home.
Not only are meals being delivered to children, they are also being delivered to the elderly who are not able to go out and shop on their own at this time. In some cases, food markets are distant or even non-existent within the confines of the school district. Under normal circumstances, people have to travel quite far to do their shopping. Yes, it is true that school districts in more metro areas are delivering food. In rural areas, community residents may actually know the people to whom the food goes and the areas that are most in need.
As with so many things, many residents who have not had children or grandchildren in school for a long while, have little idea of what schools are like and what services they provide.
Rural folks may even know the school teachers personally. They may also know school principals and school superintendents. As a former school superintendent in a rural area, I am reminded of the personal relationships. There is no hesitancy on rural people’s part in going up to the school superintendent in a restaurant, a store, a garage, or a movie, and asking a question or complaining about something.
I have had the privilege of visiting 21 of the 41 rural school districts in South Carolina. Accompanying a rural school superintendent in a tour of the district means that folks will stop and ask the superintendent a question, show pictures of grandchildren and most certainly ask who we were and what we were doing there.
For “Homers” (those born in the that community) it is even more personal. “How is Uncle John” they might ask, or “How is your daughter Elaine doing at South Carolina State,” “She graduated with my Marian you know.”
In this time of crisis, it is even more important that people know that you are a phone call or email, or Facebook post away for answers to questions. God Bless those school people for being on the other end of those communications.