PINETOP-LAKESIDE — “These are the times that try men’s souls,” was written in 1776 by Thomas Paine about the Revolutionary War. The words are an apt description of the current crisis facing the entire world. But despite the tough times we are all facing, life does go on, including school.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced the closing of all schools for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year, but school is still happening online for many.

Blue Ridge School District has worked long and hard these last few weeks to make sure all its students can continue learning. The technology department has been working long hours seven days a week to set up laptops and hot spot devices so that those who don’t have connectivity are able to do online lessons.

Teachers and staff of the district have also been working hard to ensure students can get their lessons online as well as providing free meals for those that need them.

On Monday, March 30, district teachers and staff, wearing masks and gloves, met at the Porter Mountain Campus to hand out the needed devices to those who had signed up. About 100 laptops were distributed, with another 150 passed out on Tuesday, March 31.

“We are working hard to ensure all 7-12th grade students receive a Chromebook to enable online learning. Our ultimate goal is to acquire enough equipment to assign all students, grades K-12 a computer. Until that time, only high school and junior high school students are assigned computers and or hotspots,” said Superintendent Mike Wright in an email to all employees, parents and students.

K-6 students have been receiving paper packets of assignments for now. After this week, elementary students can receive their lessons and instructions via email, the postal service or online.

It is also very important that parents make sure to update current contact information in order for their students to continue learning. They can do so at and then go to the parent portal ParentVUE.

Wright has been updating all information about COVID-19 and the district’s efforts regularly, making sure all information is accurate.

“Importantly, we are working diligently to confirm all 12th-grade students are on track to graduate and prepared to do so on time! We are also contemplating creative ways to conduct virtual commencement exercises to celebrate the class of 2020—more information to follow in the coming weeks,” he also stated. “The emphasis is on continued learning and students won’t have to worry too much about grades. K-8 students will get a pass or fail grade for the spring semester. High school students will maintain the grade assigned at the end of the third quarter, as long as they keep pace with their home-based assignments.”

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