Decisions loom for the Iberville Parish School Board on how to address graduation for seniors and ways to keep K-11 students in tune with their lessons for the next school year, which could have a “pre-session.”
It’s a different story for seniors, who will not be able to receive diplomas in the traditional fashion of a walk across a stage in front of a large audience.
The school board sent surveys to seniors on how to address their graduation.
As of now, schools likely will distribute diplomas in a “drive-up” in May, with plans for a traditional ceremony in July.
“That’s only if we’re able to do it by then,” Iberville Parish School Board Superintendent Arthur Joffrion said. “If we’re able to do that, we’ll move forward – if not, we’ll have to consider a virtual graduation.
“Our hope is to have a traditional walk across the stage and have their families there to celebrate.”
Students in grades K-11, meanwhile, may get an early start on the next school year to help reacquaint them with lessons that were sidelined after the statewide closure of public schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
The program would be available for students who need extra assistance and cover lessons they missed during the fourth nine-week period, Joffrion said.
“If we’re able to, our plan is to have a 'Pre-School' for as many elementary-age students to come back, as well as those in middle, junior and high school who need extra assistance prior to the start of the next school year,” he told the School Board during its virtual meeting Monday night.
Students would dome in, focus on skill gaps, help to reestablish routines and guide them on the content and skills they would have received during the final nine-week period of the school year.
The program would probably start after the Fourth of July, but a decision has not yet been made. The board will likely address it during its next meeting, set for Monday, May 18.
Class have resumed, meanwhile, for Iberville Parish’s K-11 public school students and teachers, who have returned to instruction through online classes and other methods to finish the 2019-20 school year.
Virtual instruction, along with communication between teachers and parents through social media and phone calls, have become the rule of the day to keep the learning process intact during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The move came into place when Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in mid-April that the learning process must continue despite the statewide shutdown of campuses.
Teachers have bought into the concept and have stepped up to the plate, according to the head of the Iberville public school system.
“Things seem to be going well so far,” Joffrion said. “Teachers are doing a phenomenal job in age-appropriate ways to work with the students they teach.”
The school system has doled out nearly 2,000 laptops during two rollout periods.
Teachers provide lessons through Google Classroom, Zoom, Facebook messaging and conversations with students via phone, text and e-mail.
The school has also issued instruction packages for those who do not have online access at home.
Classes will continue through Friday, May 22.
As for the summer months, the school board hopes to continue the lunch program, but uncertainty plays into that plan, as well.
The school system has provided 34,440 meals to 2,460 students across the district during the campus shutdowns
The program was shifted to the 3:00 Project, a nonprofit organization that provides the meals through funding from the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
“We’re continuing to look and see what our best options are … it’s pretty much on a weekly basis,” Joffrion said. “We are not so naïve to say everything will go on as scheduled since so much remains unknown.”
He said he has been in contact with state and local officials and will follow the guidance regarding phases for the program.
Payroll has been administered timely, along the bill-paying process. Outside of that, uncertainty is the underlying element in every phase of the system, Jofrrion said.
“We’re making contingencies for contingencies right now,” he said. “We’re taking everything one step at a time, planning for the best and worst.”