Carrie Hewitt, Club Vice-President, introduced Renee Jones, Social Worker, at Dixon High School. Renee then gave the Club an update on the counseling and assistance programs she coordinates at the school. She first thanked Kiwanis for the fundraising financial support the Club has given the school. She noted how our over $1,500 dollars of support went to various needs of the students such as clothing, shoes, fidget toys for nervous students in counseling, paying off lunch debt so the kids could get school lunches again. She said her school supply inventory was sufficient for now.
Renee described the new normal for school sessions to prevent spread of COVID-19. High students are divided into two cohorts A and B. Cohort A attends in person on Monday and Tuesday and then stays home to learn virtually on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Cohort B attends in person on Thursday and Friday, but learns virtually from home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There are no students at the High School on Wednesdays to allow teacher time to organize for virtual learning assignments and hold teacher coordinating meetings with their fellow teachers. This open day at school also gives the school maintenance staff time to sanitize common areas in the school building.
One the biggest problems for students with the at home learning cycle is access to the Internet especially in rural areas of the school district. While students can ‘Drive in to Connect’ in the school’s parking lot, this is not always an option. Apparently, the Onslow County Board of Education has heard you Renee along with many other teachers and parents in announcing two COVID-19 relief funding efforts of $100,000 dollars each to set up better Internet connections throughout the County School District.
Renee continues in her role as school social worker by conducting home visits when needed, counseling students at school, and coordinating with teachers to be sure all students that need her help are getting it. She did note that student suicide rates have fallen this past year, in part to the family members ‘forced’ to stay home by COVID-19.
Renee noted that the community in general has been very responsive to students in need. She cited the Holly Ridge Food Pantry for their assistance with the Friday food bags for the weekend program. She said anytime she finds a student in need of clothing, shoes, etc. she can reach out to individuals in the community and the needed items ‘just show up.’ With the onset of cooler temperature, coats will be the next item in need.
Rich Pollard, Club President, thanked Renee for her presentation and encouraged her to continue her needed and appreciated social work.