Union Parish School Board President Shannon Barkley said Tuesday that schools would remain closed, with any further determination not taking place until late April.
“Whether or not we go back to school after April 30, depends on when they (Louisiana Department of Education) look at (the situation) again,” Barkley said Tuesday evening. “At this point, myself, I don’t see it happening (schools opening again this year), but I’m not the one that makes that call. I feel like it will be closer to April 30.”
Right now the buildings sit mostly empty. There are limited personnel who are on site some days, but, for the most part, there is very little activity.
“Any kind of work that needs to be done they’re working out of the central office and working only with a skeleton crew to try and keep it to your 10 max (persons) in there,” Barkley added.
The feeding program that had been supplying meals to student-age parish residents has come to a halt. Barkley said this program is one she hopes can get started again soon.
“I hope that we can continue it. I know there are a lot of kids in our communities…, that these are some of the only meals they are getting. And especially during the difficult times we are having right now, that food is more important than ever.”
Barkley said she is very proud of the parish teachers for reaching out to students, even via social media, with helpful tips for studying and completing schoolwork.
“I’m friends with many of our teachers on Facebook,” she said. “They have been very diligent about putting out information on different Web apps that can keep our kids working on schoolwork. They have been putting out information for their particular grades to go to different sites for information and help. I’m very appreciative of the fact that our teachers, even though they’re not in the classroom, they are concerned with the education of our students.”
Although teachers are working to put out information that is available online, the internet-availability situation in the parish leaves much to be desired.
“We do not have internet access to a large portion of the parish,” Barkley said. “Teachers are putting a lot out there, but unfortunately that doesn’t do a lot of good for those who don’t have the access.”
One benefit of the meal service was that schoolwork packets could be picked up at the same time students were getting food.
With schools remaining closed at least through April, the graduation issue is still a subject that will need to be resolved at some point. Barkley feels that each high school, at some point, will have a graduation ceremony for its seniors. But she has an idea as to how the entire community can celebrate the seniors together.
“I am planning to get with the principals and the 4 schools and throw around an idea that maybe, when all this is said and done, we can have a parade through Farmerville where all the senior wear their cap and gown, and are celebrated together.”
Right now, all schools in the parish, and around the state and nation, are waiting to seen not just when, but also if schools will resume at all this year.