UP schools empty and waiting

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Closure length could be extended

  • Union Parish High School, like schools all across the nation, sits empty, waiting for the possible return of students and staff after April 14. Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY
    Union Parish High School, like schools all across the nation, sits empty, waiting for the possible return of students and staff after April 14. Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY
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    Alt Text for Image
  • Assignments for Union Parish School District students in grades 6-12 can be picked up at the high school (above left). Signs on the doors of Union Parish High School (above right) indicate the seriousness of the situation. Gazette photos by BYRON AVERY
    Assignments for Union Parish School District students in grades 6-12 can be picked up at the high school (above left). Signs on the doors of Union Parish High School (above right) indicate the seriousness of the situation. Gazette photos by BYRON AVERY
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Union Parish schools sit empty for a second straight week following a government shutdown of schools across the nation due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, commonly called the coronavirus.

Louisiana has seen a significant increase in the number of citizens infected over the last week, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

As of right now, schools are scheduled to reopen after April 14. “Hopefully by the 14th we’ll be ready to go back to school,” said UP Schools Superintendent Ted Reeves. “After that, I don’t know.”

All of the schools in the UP School District are closed, as are Union Christian Academy and D’Arbonne Woods Charter School.

There were teachers working at the schools, until order to stay at home issued Sunday by Governor John Bell Edwards.

“We’ve suspended our feeding program as well,” Reeves said. “It was getting increasingly difficult to get our own employees to do it because of the fears of the virus. We just felt like, for everybody involved – students, parents and us – we would just suspend it. The state is looking at different solutions to help with the feeding program.”

Next week is spring break for the district.

“Hopefully when we get back from spring break we’ll have some kind of guidance on the feeding program, on whether or not the school year is going to continue, so we can start making plans.”

Reeves added that teacher pay has not been suspended and the students will not have to make these missed days up. Standardized testing has also been suspended.

“We sent home packets, paper material, to our students. Many areas are doing distance learning, online stuff. Unfortunately a lot of our kids don’t have internet at the house. That makes it kind of tough.

We have enough material out there until after spring break. After that we’ll have to get together with our staff and plan what to do next.”

Right now no one even knows if schools will re-open this year. And, if they don’t, what happens to graduation?

“Right now graduation is still on,” Reeves said. Since the order is currently set to expire April 14, there is no need to cancel it yet.

“A lot of the seniors’ stuff has been suspended,” Reeves said. “That’s going to be a big issue. We don’t know how long we’ll be under this order of 10 people or less. We’re at the mercy of the state and the state is going to react to what the virus is going to do.”