HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — It has been a challenging two weeks for schools across the commonwealth, but perhaps none more so than the Milton Hershey School, which does far more than just teach.
The school takes children who may not be in the best circumstances across the state and helps them flourish. The sprawling Milton Hershey School feeds the bodies and minds of 2,100 students in addition to providing clothing and shelter.
A daunting task in the best of times, which these aren’t.
“This is a scary time for students and adults. We want to make sure we’re creating that routine and normalcy so our kids can understand they’re being cared for and supported,” says Lisa Scullin, Milton Hershey School Vice President of Marketing.
Coronavirus has sent most students throughout the state back to their homes but more than 500 are still on campus.
“Many students don’t have anywhere else to go but our school,” Scullin said.
COVID-19 has not enrolled in MHS yet but the school created a Coronavirus Task Force and put quarantine protocols in place should it arrive.
“We had to do work,” Scullin said. “To make sure we’re keeping proper distance apart and we’re moving kids out to all the homes and getting food to them all and getting what they need to make sure the children are being taken care of properly.”
Since March 16, the school has also been tackling its main mission: educating students. All 2,100 students were given laptops.
“Our teachers are logging on, engaging with classes from 9 to 11 in the morning, and from 1 to 3 in the afternoon,” Scullin said.
To be sure, there have been challenges, like one mom in particular. “She drove to a McDonald’s parking lot and had the kids in the car so they could get WIFI to log onto a virtual classroom. So we worked with her to get her a hotspot,” Scullin recalled.
The Milton Hershey School, at this moment, maybe teaching the most important lesson of all: how to overcome obstacles, even pandemic-sized ones.
“It isn’t easy,” said Scullin. “Everyone will say one-on-one instruction in a classroom setting with a teacher is the best. In these times, we can’t do that so we’re doing the next best thing,”
She says the school has not had to lay off any staff. Students and staff are screened every day for fevers and their health is closely monitored.