The staff at Madison's public schools will distribute free "to-go" children's lunches at five locations this week on Monday through Friday.
Superintendent Joel Jorgenson announced on Saturday that the Madison Central School District would organize a free sack lunch program for boys and girls -- preschoolers as well as students -- in Madison. The to-go lunch program serves as part of the district's efforts during local school closings caused by precautions enacted to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to Jorgenson, Gov. Kristi Noem had requested that all South Dakota school districts close during the week of March 16-20 to conduct deep cleaning throughout the buildings. Following the request, MCSD schools are closed for the week and all school facilities are off-limits to students.
Over the weekend, the staff at Madison Central updated information regarding the free to-go children's lunch program. School officials provided locations where individuals can pick up the sack lunches, with distribution from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. starting on Monday.
The to-go meals are available -- free to all students in grades K-12 and also to all children ages 1 to 4 -- at five locations in Madison:
-- Madison Elementary School's south side drive-thru.
-- Madison High School's south side drive-thru.
-- Westside Park's swimming pool area.
-- Madison Public Library's east side.
-- Dakotaland Federal Credit Union's parking lot.
Individuals are asked to either drive through the pick-up areas or walk up to receive the sack lunches. Diners are asked to not eat the food on-site but to take the lunches to other locations to eat.
Jorgenson said the free lunch program might go through some changes during the week with the school cafeteria staff "...making adjustments as needed." He added that Madison Central's school cafeteria program was in healthy fiscal shape, so the school district can support the free lunch program.
According to Jorgenson, Madison Central's maintenance and cafeteria staffs -- along with some members of the classified staff -- would spend the week performing "deep cleaning" at school facilities.
Jorgenson said the goal was to have the public schools ready for reopening on March 23. However, he said the school reopenings would depend on the COVID-19 events that occur this week.
"As we receive more information, we'll get that information out to our families," Jorgenson said.