COVID-19 has proved to be a challenge for education systems all over the United States for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. While schools scramble to meet the public health guidelines and try to ensure safety for all students and faculty, they have also had to make adjustments to the learning process and how those processes are carried out. These new procedures have put stressors on teachers and students and in Louisiana, add one more challenge in the form of Hurricane Laura and you have an extremely difficult situation.
This unprecedented situation has definitely impacted Downsville Community Charter School along with its teachers and students. “School has been in session for two weeks and it has been a very difficult time for our students, teachers and parents,” said Executive Director, Tony Cain.
Cain expressed concern that COVID has caused a tremendous amount of stress on the educational process. In an attempt to make school as normal as possible, Downsville Community Charter has opted to have students attend school five days a week, although there are some students who have opted to attend school virtually. “This pandemic has disrupted the daily school environment by severely restricting the normal ways in which students interact with each other and their teachers,” Cain said.
The virtual learners have also had to deal with the lack of high-speed Internet infrastructure in Union Parish. Cain expressed his frustration with the virtual learning situation, “couple this with numerous technology issues such as damage from the hurricane and not enough technology to go around because everything is back ordered.”
Downsville Charter is following all mandated health and safety protocols in order to make the learning environment as safe as possible for all students and faculty. Every student riding a bus has their temperature taken before getting on the bus and all car riders have their temperature taken before exiting their vehicles. Any students presenting with a temperature are not allowed to leave the vehicle and must return home.
Despite all the safety measures, several students and staff have tested positive for the virus. “Currently, all middle school students are quarantined at home due to a combination of student and staff diagnoses that have resulted in nearly every middle school student having direct contact with someone that had been diagnosed,” said Cain.
All of these difficulties and technology issues have led to a decreased morale. “Staff morale is tough at the moment. Teachers are being asked to do more than their job traditionally entails in a highly restrictive environment and teachers of younger students build relationships with their students through hugging and supportive gestures and they are unable to do so anymore,” said Cain.
While things are difficult, Cain said that Downsville Community Charter School is doing everything it can to make this a fun year with quality learning. “This year will be different than any previous school year we have experienced. It will require patience, understanding, and a sense of humor,” Cain said.
Cain is proud of the way that the students, parents, teachers, and community are pulling together. “Most parents, students and teachers are doing everything they can to make the best of a very difficult situation,” Cain said. “For the most part they have been understanding of the difficulties DCCS has faced providing quality instruction with a lack of technology, missing students, and an environment that inhibits everyone from having a typical school experience.”