Education

It’s back to school for Natchitoches Parish School District students on  Aug. 30 | Around The Town

by staff reporter Nora Drenner

Natchitoches Parish School students head back to school August 31. That was the decision made by the school board  during a special called virtual meeting Friday,  July 24.  The school board initially kicked around  the idea of a later start during its  regular  virtual meeting on  July 14.

The reasoning behind a later start  date is to give the  district, including  school administrators and teachers, additional  time to  prepare  for the  Safe Start plan for schools  outlined  by  the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).  A story about the  Strong Start 2020 plan and its  accompanying procedures appeared in the July issue of Around the Town.  Additionally, a draft of  the Natchitoches Parish Schools plan  can be found on the  district website.

Superintendent  Grant Eloi recommended that the start date for the 2020-2021 school year be pushed to September with the first day of school  on  Aug. 31. During  the July 24 meeting  Eloi offered two calendars for  consideration. 

Calendar A  noted Eloi  takes away the scheduled  October fall break and February  Mari Gras break with.   On the other hand, said Eloi, calendar B  keeps the October fall break and eliminates the February  Mardi Gras break.

Additionally, parents have the option  for virtual learning which would follow the same calendar.  To date, said Eloi  during the July 24 meeting, 2,100 have signed up for the  homebased  virtual program. 

A  lengthy  discussion ensued  with board member Tan’Keia Palmer expressing concern  regarding  traditional  school.  Instead, Palmer felt the district  should offer virtual  school only  at least through  the fall semester.  The difficulty with 100 percent virtual noted  Eloi was that an estimated  30 percent of  the student population is unable to obtain  an adequate internet  connection despite the hotspot  connectivity the school district  has secured  through federal  COVID-19  dollars provided to school districts throughout the country. 

 In the end, the board members chose their own option C,  which gives a long weekend fall break  Friday, Oct.  9 though Monday, Oct. 12.   Board Palmer was the lone vote  against  the calendar C option.

The  Aug. 31  through Sept. 4  will be a soft opening  with one-fifth of the student body  attending  one of those days  for an  orientation. The first full day for students is Tuesday, Sept. 8 following  the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 7. 

The deadline to sign up for the  online  school program is  July 29.

In other business during the regular July 14 meeting,  board members  extended the grace period  for uniforms through September.  Additionally, principals at each respective school will  handle uniform issues including  dress down guidelines for those students who need additional time  to obtain  uniforms.

A virtual town meeting is taking place  Tuesday,  July 24, beginning at 5 p.m. on the NPSB Facebook page to address  school start concerns.

Categories: Education

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