State, local officials react to governor’s closing of schools

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Edwards made school year closing official Wednesday

On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that public school will remain closed for the 2019-2020 academic year due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

However, Edwards says education for students will continue via distance learning.

Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux issued a statement emphasizing the need for continued learning and for strong preparation for the 2020-21 school year.

“We respect the decision of the governor to extend the closure of school facilities to students for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to ensure the health and safety of our citizens,” Scioneaux said.

Sandy Holloway, Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) president, issued the following statement in response to Governor Edwards extending the closure of school facilities for the remainder of the school year:

“With the announcement of statewide school facilities closure for the rest of this academic year, we call on school districts to ensure learning for all students and the continuation of food service. We must now move ahead with a sense of urgency and thoughtfulness in developing plans for the future that address and correct learning gaps resulting from COVID-19. As such, I have tapped BESE Members Ashley Ellis and Preston Castille to take the lead for the Board in liaising with the Louisiana Department of Education as they outline an academic plan for the future. BESE remains committed to prioritizing students, their learning, and engaging stakeholders as our state navigates these uncharted waters. There will be many opportunities and challenges ahead as we continue to work together during these uncertain times; in the meantime, schools and school systems need to be supported in their decisions in providing services to all populations of students, encouraging the use of materials and resources that are already in use,” said Sandy Holloway, BESE president.

School districts are reacting to Gov. Edwards decision and releasing information to help parents.

According to a statement by Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey. The statement came via Bossier schools website Wednesday.

Downey says this is not the school year we could have ever envisioned. However, Bossier Schools fully supports Governor Edwards’ decision because ensuring the health and safety of students and employees is, and always will be, our top priority. 

“This is not the school year we could have ever envisioned,” Downey said. “It has meant an abrupt end to our Class of 2020’s senior year, our athletes’ sports seasons and crowning moments, as well as every student’s daily routine, time with friends and teachers, and academic celebrations. However, Bossier Schools fully supports Governor Edwards’ decision because ensuring the health and safety of students and employees is, and always will be, our top priority.”

Downey said that as more information becomes available over the next several weeks, the district will be able to “make decisions and move forward with those student celebrations we cherish.”

“As we gain clarity over these next several weeks of where we are as a state and nation in this global pandemic, our district will be able to make decisions and move forward with those student celebrations we cherish. Right now, it is simply too soon,” said Downey.

“Though the schoolhouse doors will remain shuttered, that does not mean learning will stop. Last week, Bossier Schools released additional guidance for grades K-12, as well as online supplemental learning resources and plans to move forward with new instruction,” said Downey.

“Let me emphasize no child will be penalized academically because of their inability to access devices, the Internet or participate in academic activities,” Downey added. “If a student declines academically during this period of school closure, his/her grade will revert back to the grade he/she had at the time of the school closure. We encourage parents to reach out to their child’s teacher(s) or school counselor for specific questions.”