Bossier Schools gathering input to formulate a plan for seniors and graduation

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Bossier Parish School system leadership is gathering input from senior counselors and high school principals to formulate a plan for seniors who were set to graduate this spring, Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said Thursday.

“Now that districts have guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education, Bossier Schools leadership is gathering input from senior counselors and high school principals to formulate a plan for seniors and graduation,” Downey said in an email statement.

“We want to assure our families that Bossier Schools is using every means available to determine that their high school senior has demonstrated proficiency in required courses, and provided options to help students meet credit requirements, so they can be awarded credit and certified eligible to graduate,” 

The message from Downey came shortly after the Department of Education announced it was leaving it up to local school systems to decide whether high school seniors who were on track to graduate before the COVID-19 outbreak have met course requirements.

The uncertainty surrounding soon-to-be graduates is one of many repercussions from the novel coronavirus pandemic, which saw a 42-percent reported increase in one day to 9,150 positive cases in Louisiana, according to the Department of Health.

The status for seniors grew even more uncertain on Thursday, when Gov. John Bel Edwards said he was officially extending his “stay at home” order through April 30.

Many schools in the state were originally scheduled to end in mid to late May. In Livingston Parish, schools were set to conclude the 2019-20 school year on May 22, which would leave less than a month of school after the current order is lifted.

Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux and state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Sandy Holloway made a joint statement Thursday in response to Gov. John Bel Edwards’s announcement Thursday to extend Louisiana’s stay-at-home order and school facility closures until April 30. 

“School facilities may remain closed, but the education and well-being of our students and their families continue to be a top priority. For this reason, it is critical that school systems engage with students and families, including by providing distance education opportunities. This not only ensures academic progress and social support for students and families; it provides stability during an uncertain and unprecedented time,” Scioneaux and Holloway said in a joint statement.

“As we move forward, we, at the Louisiana Department of Education and BESE, stand committed to supporting school systems as they make local decisions regarding distance education opportunities and the remainder of the school year, and to fulfilling our collective mission of serving every child, every day,” they added.