Parish schools close as precautionary measure for two tropical storm systems

Staff Report

The Iberville Parish School Board chose to err on the side of caution in light of two potential hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, Superintendent Arthur Joffrion said.

The threat of Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura prompted School Board Officials to cancel classes for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as a precautionary step.

Iberville Parish School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion

“We would rather close and have minimal effect than not close and take chances of putting employees and students at risk,” Joffrion said.

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge – which oversees St. John Elementary and High School, as well as others across the Diocese – also called off schools as a precautionary measure. Further announcements had not been made as press time.

The possibility of a greater threat from Laura prompted the closure for Wednesday. Joffrion and other School Board officials were set to meet Tuesday with Clint Moore of the Iberville Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to determine the direction after Wednesday.

School Board officials weigh out the option of conducting virtual classes during the campus shutdowns.

They opted not to go that direction because of the additional stress educators, parents and students would face if one or both of the storms would become a bigger threat.

“We had thought about conducting them as virtual instruction days, but we didn’t want to put people in that position if weather was bad or if power went out,” Joffrion said. “You know situations people could face in a storm, so we didn’t want to put added pressure in a storm with kids and parents worried about doing instruction.”

The plans started coming together Friday, when a greater threat loomed.

“It’s fairly pretty outside now (Monday), so maybe we could’ve done it early, but we still feel we made the best decision,” he said.

The weather shutdown came just one week after students returned to campuses across Iberville Parish.

The opening was one week later than planned due to a decision from Joffrion to give teachers and administrators to familiarize themselves with the protocol now required as a safeguard against the novel coronavirus.

“I sent an email parishwide to all of our employees how we could let COVID-19 define us, and when hist books are written, how we answered the call,” Joffrion said. “The storm is just another stumbling block, but like anything, it brings out resilience, we stay strong, make adjustment and keep moving forward.”

Teachers have worked well through the challenges thus far, he said.

“Our teachers are having to work so diligently not only with face to face, but also engaging their remote learners.,” Joffrion said. “We have some students face to face and some who chose remote learning, meaning they are logging in to instruction in classroom while teacher is balancing face to face and those on computers.”

“Our educators are working extremely diligently to make this “new normal” presentation of instruction a success,” he said. “Certainly not easy, but our educators are putting it off and we’re continuing to work with school principals to ensure it’s a success.”