19 Zachary teachers quarantined over COVID-19 concerns; start date of school year pushed back

Zachary school district decides to postpone start date to Aug. 17

ZACHARY, La. (WAFB) - Nineteen teachers in the Zachary Community School District are currently quarantined due to COVID-19, the school system confirmed Thursday, Aug. 6.

Of those 19, seven of the teachers have either confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus.

The other 12 teachers are currently under quarantine after having had close contact with someone who has the virus, Zachary School Superintendent Scott Devillier said. The school system has a total of 390 teachers.

But a lot of teachers who were at the meeting talked about how they just need more time to prepare for this hybrid model of learning.

“Parents, we hear you. Board, we hear you. Is anybody hearing us?” said one teacher in the Zachary School District.

The Zachary Community School District is also hiring.

Right now officials are looking to fill four teacher positions, along with bus monitors and substitute teachers.

Inside your child’s classroom, there will be thermometers, hand sanitizers, disinfectant spray, masks, and desks will be spread apart.

“If 99% of the kids are good, what’s the 1% that’s not? Who’s willing to take that chance,” questioned one teacher in the school district.

“The CDC recommendations, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, The New England Journal of Medicine, who all agree elementary school children should be back in traditional classrooms,” said one parent.

The school district welcomed teachers back to prepare for the hybrid model this Monday, August 3, and on Tuesday, August 4, is when officials began to learn about the COVID cases.

“We want to teach safely. We don’t want to teach unsafely. We want to teach preparedness. We don’t feel prepared, we need more time,” said one teacher.

That statement echoed by other teachers who say the district still needs to work out some kinks with the hybrid model of learning.

While some parents say this process has been rushed, some are ready for school to start.

“My son is suffering from not being in school. He misses his friends, he misses going outside with his friends, he misses his teachers. And I’m the first one to criticize Zachary when they’re wrong, but this situation is more about teachers being concerned about what is a possibility,” said another parent.

“That’s why we aren’t throwing 30 kids back in a room for a teacher to watch when they’ve got to be concerned about so many different things that were never there before,” said one teacher.

There were parents who were ready to send their children back to school 5 days a week, and some who wanted to push the start date back to after Labor Day.

Superintendent Scott Devilier says this is the best option, so this school year doesn’t end up lasting until June.

The school system was previously scheduled to start classes Monday, Aug. 10. The system called a special school board meeting Thursday night to discuss possible changes to the school calendar. At the meeting, the board voted unanimously to delay the start of school by one week. Classes will now begin Aug. 17.

Other neighboring school systems are also dealing with illnesses tied to the coronavirus outbreak. A spokeswoman for Livingston Parish Public Schools declined to disclose how many teachers in that district are under a COVID-19 quarantine, but said the number was “negligible.”

“All teaching positions in Livingston Parish Public Schools are filled for the start of the school year,” spokeswoman, Delia Taylor, said Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Ascension Parish Schools also declined to provide an exact number.

“We cannot give out any information specific to an employee’s health,” Ascension Schools spokeswoman, Jackie Tisdell, said. The district disclosed on July 29 that an “individual” at Dutchtown High School tested positive for the virus, but did not provide any more details.

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