CPS Prime: Door to Door Every 48 or 24

CPS finds new ways of getting valuable educational materials to students despite distanced learning.

Lisa Chalupney & Mike Hayes prep first thing in the morning for the start of their delivery day.

As the Coronavirus pandemic runs its course through the world, many businesses, workplaces, and organizations have had to adapt to social distancing, limits on occupancy, and mask-wearing. One of the most greatly affected areas has been schools. As all of Columbia Public Schools have been online for the beginning of the school year, getting students the materials they need has been a new challenge for teachers and families. Enter the new CPS Prime Delivery Service. This effort has been started by Dr. Tony Gragnani, EDD, and Dr. Eryca Neville, PhD. Dr. Gragnani is the principal at Hickman High School and Dr. Neville is the principal at Douglass High School. When asked to explain the need the service will meet, Dr. Neville said: “We have materials that have not been picked up. Academic materials necessary to support learning that are still sitting in our building and families whose situations are too complicated to get to pick them up for whatever reason. Our hope is that we want education to continue, so we wanted to figure out a way that we could help get those materials into the hands of our students.”

As Dr. Gragnani explained the process of the service, he used the example of a photography student needing a camera. The student would request the camera through their teacher and the teacher would fill out a form. The teacher would then take the form and the camera down to the office where it would be put on a table. When the delivery service came through they could pick it up and load it for delivery. Dr. Neville jokingly calls this “Grubhub style”. Once it had been sent out, a secretary would call the home to which the delivery was being made in order to let the family know the camera was on its way. This would ensure that someone would be home to get the delivery so the item was not left out for too long. When the service came back to the school, an email would be sent to the teacher who sent the item letting them know that the student received the delivery.


Dr. Neville explained the resources available for the service. “We had various employees in the building that needed meaningful work that we wanted to utilize to keep education flowing,” she said. “We have many busses, we have people that are available and we have materials that need to get into the hands of our families.”

Mike Hayes, the Associate Coordinator of Safety and Security, is also a driver for the program and he gave an inside look on what the delivery process is like from the delivery side. “Coach Craig Seymore and I check for all of the pickups that we need to make each day when we get here in the mornings,” Seymore said. “Then, we go door to door throughout, making sure that we are following proper social distancing with masks, and then either drop off or pick up materials. We coordinate as best as we can so that we don’t have to backtrack.” The delivery service’s goal is to deliver supplies within 24 to 48 hours.

Dr. Gragnani laid out the delivery schedule saying, “each cluster, like the Hickman and Douglass cluster, Rock Bridge cluster, Battle cluster, all have delivery that is going through. We’ll do pickups on Mondays and Tuesdays for one cluster and then Wednesday-Thursday for another cluster and Friday is kind of like a catch-up day. So if we have something large that we need to get out to one of the schools, that Friday is like a spillover day for us to be flexible and modify things as needed.” He also talked about the beginning of the program. “This first-week launch is going to be really interesting for us because we will have to see what the demand is and if we need to we can scale up to meet the demands of our students and families and support them in education.” 

Lisa Chalupny, a Counseling secretary at Hickman has been a part of the program’s beginning. “It’s starting out a little slow, but we have had several schools and teachers contact us and we’re expecting it to pick up over the next few days and weeks,” Chalupny said. “We’ve already made deliveries for them. The schools are really excited about it and are so happy that they can call us at the last minute. We have a really good turnaround.”

The purpose of the program was to help students and families in the new virtual school age. Ms. Chalupny gave some examples of supplies that have been sent so far to help students. “It has definitely been helpful for those who haven’t been able to get out. Just today they delivered hotspots, art supplies, boxes of woodworking materials, books and paperwork, even a special delivery from a counselor to one of their students in need. We’re the go-between – a bridge to help people get people what they need and return what they can’t get back.”

Dr. Neville added, “it’s another way for us, as educators during this pandemic, to have some other connectedness to our households that our students are coming from.”

Dr. Gragnani pushed the value of this saying: “We really don’t know how long we are going to be in this virtual setting, so we want to still have that connection to the school, or that school experience as much as we possibly can.”  Hayes echoed the benefits. “It’s a wonderful program,” he said. “You know, with all the craziness of COVID right now,  it’s good to see that CPS goes above and beyond for their students.”