BESE asks Gov. Edwards to close La. public schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year

BESE asks Gov. Edwards to close La. public schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has asked Governor John Bel Edwards to extend his proclamation to close the state’s public schools for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.

In its April 9 letter to Gov. Edwards, top BESE leaders cited a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the closure of schools greatly reduces the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Edwards issued Proclamation JBE 2020-27 March 13 closing all of Louisiana’s public schools until April 13. The governor then extended the proclamation through April 30.

BESE President Sandy Holloway issued the following statement about the board’s decision to petition the governor:

“Recently reported data suggests that much of our population in Louisiana is particularly vulnerable and susceptible to this virus—as confirmed cases continue to rise,” BESE leaders said in the letter to Gov. Edwards.

"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,” Holloway said.

It is unclear at this time if Gov. Edwards will act on the request of BESE leaders.

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