High school ag programs have had their own logistical challenges to work through because of the coronavirus.

Schools in many states are in the midst of multiweek closures.

At Northern Lebanon High School in Pennsylvania, ag teachers Jennie Balmer and Gretchen Oberst have been stopping by the school each day to water the vegetables and flowers in the greenhouse and feed the program’s two steers, two goats and 50 rabbits.

“I am hoping to find a few students to help when I need to move rabbits around and clean out the pens,” Balmer said Monday.

At that point, the teachers had not been told to post assignments to the district’s online portal, though Balmer was expecting to get that directive in the coming days.

During the hiatus, students will be able to update the web-based record books for their FFA projects, though they will miss out on the hands-on work that is a daily staple of ag science classes.

Before the governor called off classes for two weeks starting March 16, Balmer had connected the coronavirus outbreak to agriculture in some of her classes.

“We talked about it being similar to biosecurity procedures that producers and processors have to follow every day,” she said. “Also, if diseases break out in the animal industry, quarantines are enforced and followed.”

The sudden shift to online learning for students, not to mention telework for office employees, has given the American Farm Bureau Federation a platform to push for expanded rural internet access.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury,” said RJ Karney, the group’s congressional relations director.

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