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Teachers greeted students at Eunice High School Wednesday with messages and waves. The students were on campus in a drive-through line to obtained their caps and gowns for a graduation ceremony that is as yet not scheduled. The students also received class rings. (Photos by Myra Miller)

Schools to remain closed

Superintendent talks about a school year ending with uncertainty

Schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Monday.
Edwards ordered schools closed on March 16.
St. Landry Parish School Superintendent Patrick Jenkins on Wednesday said a proclamation from the governor is expected to formally end traditional classes in the state for this academic year.
“School is ending in the school buildings, but not educating kids,” Jenkins said.
“We will continue to educate kids through the reminder of the school year, which is May 20th,” he said.
Students and teachers have continued educational interactions, but they been at a distance using online and other resources.
“We have teachers contacting parents or students on multiple platforms,” Jenkins said.
The governor’s first school shutdown announcement predicted an April 13 restart of traditional classes. The next opening day was after April 30. The dates disappeared as the CLOVID-19 virus continued to spread and kill.
“I think it is challenging for everyone, students and teachers alike. We have been thrust into an unprecedented situation,” Jenkins said.
Teachers are learning new skills to educate students with online resources. In some cases, students depend on paper packets for their learning materials.
“This is not something anyone went to school to be able to teach like,” he said.
“Most students are prepared to learn fact-to-face,” Jenkins said. “There is no specific research, but kids can adapt quickly to online learning.”
But much of what is normal about education has gone by wayside. Standardized tests won’t be given this year. There will be TOPS, but some of the requirements are changing. The ACT test has been moved to June 13. There will be pass-fail grades instead of letter grades.
One goal is to have graduation ceremonies as close to tradition as possible, but that will be dictated by the need to combat the virus.
“We are going to look at a number of options,” Jenkins said. “We definitely want a traditional graduation for our students if it all possible.”
“We are going to communicate with parents next week with all the requirements for grades for the end of year,” he said.
The shutdown ended meals served in schools, but the St. Landry Parish school system has continued to offer food to students.
About 40,000 meals have been provided to students since schools closed, he said. The parish is one of the few that never stopped food distribution, he said.
Next week a program begins to distribute food directly to students’ residences, he said. Parents must apply for the food at the School Board’s website or social media page.
Jenkins said he has not received a report of any school employee being infected with the virus.
On the horizon is the question about what happens in the next school year if the virus remains a threat.
“Education as changed and never will be the same,” Jenkins said.
“We will never ever educate children the way we’ve educated them before,” he said.

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