K-12 campuses to remain closed remainder of 19-20 school year

John Dupont

MONROE -- The state’s K-12 public school students will not return to their campuses before the end of the school year, but education will not end, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.

The fate of the 2019-20 school year will come by way of an official proclamation, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during his COVID-19 briefing in Monroe at the Public Safety Center.

The official proclamation had not been released at press time.

Focus will likely shift to distance learning and other alternative methods, Edwards said.

“The school year will continue, but they’re not going back to school campuses,” he said. “Distance learning and other ways to educate children will continue, and we will have more information from school districts on what that will look like.

“May 20 is typically the last day anyway, and it’s not going to work to get back on campuses before the end of the school year,” he said. “We don’t what’s going to happen after April 30 anyway, so it’s not feasible to operations of schools at this time – tomorrow will bring more information.”

Edwards has not yet decided whether he will extend the Stay at Home mandate past April 30 but has hinted that it could possibly happen.

His comments on school closure came four days after the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Department asked him to bring an end to the school year.

The uncertainty over an end to the coronavirus would create a heightened risk for students if they would return after April 30, both department heads said in a letter they addressed to Edwards last week.

State Sen. Cleo Fields, chairman of the Senate Committee of Education, said he believes Edwards made the right decision.

“The Governor’s decision to close schools for the remainder of this academic school year due to COVID-19 is in the best interest of our state’s students and citizens,” said Fields, D-Baton Rouge. “Although the situation is far from ideal, I am confident that the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the state Department of Education, our school systems, schools, teachers, and our higher education system will do everything possible to ensure students are not placed at an academic disadvantage.”

Gov. Edwards issued an executive order March 13 that closed all K-12 public schools across the state. Nearly all private and parochial schools across Louisiana followed suit with the executive order.

He spoke in Monroe after he toured Ouachita Parish, where two tornadoes – including an F-2 with winds of 120 mph – caused widespread damage Easter Sunday. Tornadoes also touched down in Jackson, Miss.