It is no secret that COVID-19 has taken a toll on citizens across the United States, the economy, employment opportunities and many other areas. However, none is more apparent than the education system. Schools across the country have struggled with decisions to open their doors or have completely virtual learning systems.
Fortunately, schools in Louisiana and the Union Parish community had the freedom to determine what learning models would best suit the needs of their students, teachers, and parents.
D’Arbonne Woods Charter School is one of the schools in Union Parish that chose to open its doors to students five days a week. That decision has helped teachers, parents and on-campus learners find at least some sense of normalcy in a world that has become anything but normal. “Everything is going as well as can be expected,” said Heath Murry, Executive Director for D’Arbonne Woods.
While most students and parents opted for the five days a week on campus learning model, approximately 25 percent of DWCS’ population chose to learn virtually. “Teachers are working extremely hard trying to teach our students on campus and virtually,” said Murry.
D’Arbonne Woods Charter School is following all mandated health and safety protocols. “We are taking temperatures every morning and our students in grades 3-12 are wearing masks in accordance with state mandates,” Murry said. “We have had no real problems to speak of.”
While the school has reported a few positive cases since the beginning of school, no shut down of the school or even a class has been necessary. “We feel very fortunate that our parents have been really cooperative in reporting positive cases and symptoms to our nurse,” said Murry.
In addition to the cooperation of parents, students and teachers, Murry said the biggest positive is by far getting to see the students back at school interacting with each other and teachers.
“Most of our students really missed being at school and it was evident that they were very glad to be back,” Murry stated. He also added, “Several of our students who chose virtual learning have asked to come back to school, which we are definitely allowing as space permits.”
DWCS has also begun its fall sports activities while continuing to follow mandated safety guidelines.
“We are in the middle of cross country right now and we are trying to get football kicked off,” said Murry.
“Our first varsity football game was cancelled due to COVID, so this Friday night will be our season opener at home vs. Northwood-Lena.”
Murry stated that in accordance with state guidelines, spectator capacity has been cut to 25 percent and those fans who are attending are requested to wear a mask and social distance.
While circumstances have proved challenging for teachers, students and parents, Murry is quick to point out that he has been very pleased with the abilities of everyone involved to adapt to the changed environment. “Morale is getting better every week,” said Murry. “Most of us were overwhelmed at the beginning of the year. Virtual teaching is a new concept to most teachers and they have been asked to master that in addition to meeting the needs of on-campus students,” Murry said.
He said he is grateful for everyone adapting to what has taken place over the last six months. “There is no blueprint for what we are experiencing, so it is imperative that we continue to work together for the sake of our students and their future,” said Murry.
D’Arbonne Woods Charter School is currently working out the details for the second nine weeks, which begins November 5. Soon parents will be asked to choose between campus or virtual learning. This will come in the form of a Google survey which will be posted on the school website on October 16.