When Loudoun Co. schools open, new ways to pay for meals, track bus

Families in Loudoun County will have new ways to pay for school meals and track the location of buses in the Virginia county when the 2022-2023 school year begins on Thursday, Aug. 25.

With the end of the COVID-19-based universal free meals program, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families will resume paying for student meals, at pre-pandemic prices. In a news release, Loudoun County Public Schools said breakfast costs $2.10, lunch at the K-5 level costs $3.05 and $3.15 for student in grades 6 through 12.

A new meal payment tool, called Titan, allows families to prepay for meals.

According to the school system, families that may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals can find information on the LCPS First Day Information website.

Schools with more than 50% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals will provide free breakfast and lunch to the entire school. One snack or one supper daily will also be provided at schools that have an after-school enrichment program and more than 50% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals.

For families with students who ride the school bus, this year LCPS is using a new app called Stopfinder, which replaces the Here Comes the Bus service, to set up GeoAlert notifications tracking a student’s bus location.

Stopfinder is invitation-based, according to the school division: “The LCPS Transportation department will send invitations to all parents/guardians on August 19, with information on how to subscribe for the service. LCPS will continue to send invitations and reminders throughout the school year to parents/guardians who have not yet signed up.”

The school system, which includes 98 schools serving nearly 82,000 students, will open one new school this year, Elaine E. Thompson Elementary School, in Sterling. LCPS said this is its first three-story elementary school that “has already received an award from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Decarbonize Your Design Challenge that recognizes new construction projects for superior energy efficiency and preventing carbon dioxide emissions.”

Regarding COVID protocols, students and visitors are not required to wear a mask in schools or on LCPS property: “According to federal regulations, Head Start preschool programs will continue to require masks in the classroom and on school buses. We encourage all families to talk to their students about their mask decisions. Find answers to frequently asked questions.”

The 2022-2023 school year is scheduled to run through Thursday, June 8.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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