Board considering delaying start of school

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By Carolyn Roy, Carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Supt. of Schools Grant Eloi said during a school board meeting Tuesday that he considering starting school Aug. 31 instead of Aug. 6. The school board will have to vote on that recommendation during a special called meeting, hopefully sometime next week. Eloi said that after talking with numerous parents, teachers and administrators and considering the spike in COVID-19 cases, he found many felt they were running out of time to get school started considering the numerous changes.

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Starting Aug. 31 would give the system the first week in September to see how school is working. “Every principal said please make it happen,” Eloi said. Caddo, Bossier and Webster parishes have decided to have a late start. Another important factor is that the number of students who want to attend virtual classes is increasing every day.

Last week he received 1,397 requests and by Tuesday the number was at 1,461. He expects the final number will be close to 1,500 or about one-third of the school population. Many teachers, students and administrators have underlying conditions that would require virtual instruction.

The later starting date would give teachers more time to prepare. Eloi said he is waiting on numerous decisions from the BESE Board and La. Dept. of Education. Also contributing to the problems is that many items required for virtual learning as well as sanitizing the schools are back-ordered. Also, COVID-19 conditions could change dramatically during the next two weeks creating even more need for flexibility.

The board voted to extend the grace period for students to have uniforms until Sept. 30, regardless of when school starts. Those who have uniforms should wear them but those who don’t must adhere to dress down guidelines already in place. The idea was advocated by board members Beverly Broadway, Reba Phelps and Tan’Keia Palmer as a way to offer support to parents who had experienced illness or loss of income during the pandemic.