Schools have been closed across the state in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Governor John Bel Edwards closed schools on March 13 with an official proclamation. The initial proclamation had closed schools through April 13. The closure has since been extended through April 30 to coincide with Governor Edwards’ stay-at-home order.
While the Governor has expressed optimism that Louisiana is making progress slowing the spread of the virus, no clear timetable for things to go back to normal has been given. This has caused many to speculate that schools will not resume the current spring semester.
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has sent a letter to Governor Edwards requesting that he extend the closures through the remainder of the Spring semester. BESE also expressed in the letter their support for continuing meal programs, and distance learning resources.
In addition to the letter the following statement was released by BESE President Sandy Holloway:
“The safety and health of our students and educators is the top priority for BESE. The impact of COVID-19 in Louisiana has been pronounced, and statistics clearly indicate that our state is particularly vulnerable to further spread of this dangerous virus at a time when we have yet to see the expected peak in the number of cases. BESE leadership, therefore, supports the Governor in making a decision sooner, rather than later, to extend the school facilities closure through the end of the school year. We also implore districts to maintain food services and distance learning for all students, as this facilities closure does not mark the discontinuation of support for families for the Spring term.
Preserving continuity of learning for our students during this closure is extremely important. We applaud the efforts of Louisiana educators and school districts to deliver distance education and meal services and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE), under the leadership of Beth Scioneaux, Acting State Superintendent, will continue to provide guidance and support as all stakeholders navigate this unprecedented event. Our Board supports the LDE in focusing its efforts on designing a long-term plan to address the loss of classroom instructional time and identifying the necessary policy revisions that ensure students are not left behind academically. We look forward to conversations with key stakeholders and local education agencies in that process.”
The letter was signed by Holloway, BESE Vice President Tony Davis, and BESE Secretary-Treasurer Kira Orange Jones. For more information log on to bese.louisiana.gov.