The officers of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) sent a letter April 9 to Governor John Bel Edwards in support of making an immediate decision regarding the extension of his order and closing public school facilities statewide for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
Natchitoches native and BESE Board member Tony Davis said, “I want the Department (of Education) to be able to focus on one thing: working with local districts to determine the best way to get our kids caught up and moving forward. By closing facilities—not school, just the buildings—for the remainder of the term, it takes the ‘what-if’ planning options off the table, for local districts and the State. We can hopefully now concentrate on solving the issue in front of us and providing guidance for the local districts—and we will continue to support innovation and partnerships that support feeding programs, as well as a continued emphasis on doing everything we can for distance learning, recognizing that looks different in every parish.”
Regarding the BESE leadership recommendation, BESE President Sandy Holloway has issued the following statement: “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 supports for families for the Spring term.
Preserving a 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.”