HVRSD administration’s COVID-19 efforts take center stage during forum held by Pennington Presbyterian Church

Pennington Presbyterian Church on S Main St. in Pennington. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
Pennington Presbyterian Church on S Main St. in Pennington. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

Pennington Presbyterian Church will hold a discussion and gain insight this week about how the Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD) has navigated the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual discussion scheduled for Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. will feature HVRSD Superintendent Thomas Smith discussing “The Pandemic and Hopewell Valley Schools: Challenge, Response, Lessons Learned.”

“The church cares deeply about the well-being of our community, not just people of our congregation, but for the whole community,” Pastor Nancy Mikoski said. “This is our chance to learn and support and see if there are ways we can express care and appreciation for the hard work people are doing.”

The event is the latest topic presented by the church’s Older Adult Ministry Committee as part of its Brown Bag Lunch program series.

“The Older Adult Ministry Committee of the Pennington Presbyterian Church has been holding Brown Bag Lunch programs for years. Before the pandemic, we did them in-person there was a lunch at 12:30, then a speaker from 1-2 p.m.,” said Madeleine Mansier, chair of the Older Adult Ministry Committee. “Once the pandemic hit we wanted to continue monthly programs at least during the school year.”

The different topics for the Brown Bag Lunch program series come from within the committee. When the committee sat down to plan for programs in February, March, April and May, Madeleine’s husband Larry Mansier came up with the idea to have Smith be a speaker.

“Because it would be just about a year since the pandemic started and its impact on schools,” Madeleine Mansier said, “it would be interesting to hear what the initial challenges were, how they reacted to it, what they considered and rejected, and why they changed again and again because of varying challenges.”

The virtual discussion is designed to give everyone some insight, including those individuals who do not have a personal connection to the school district at this time.

“Anybody, regardless of age, who has no other way of really knowing outside of what they read do not really have sense of what was going on in the schools and what changes they made,” Madeleine Mansier added. “They could be older folks like we are, where the kids are no longer in school, or younger folks who are married and have no children or have children in private school.”

Currently, there are no plans for ongoing discussions with Smith after this week.

“If something comes out of this that leads to another discussion that would be fine. Our motivating factor is always to educate, inform, inspire, help and serve,” Madeleine Mansier said. “I hope a takeaway for people will be what a monumental task it is to navigate through a pandemic that no one has experience with. The committee sees this as one the most important community programs that we have done recently.”

For more information about the event and to register contact the church office at 609-737-1221.