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More than half choose virtual learning for Concordia Parish schools

VIDALIA — More than 50% of parents with children in the Concordia Parish School District have chosen virtual learning over in-classroom instruction.

District Superintendent Whest Shirley said the number of families that have selected virtual learning is more than district officials expected.

In order to prepare teachers and parents for virtual learning, Whest said the district has moved the start of the school year to Aug. 24.

The first day of school was originally scheduled for today but was reset by the Concordia Parish School Board in a special meeting last week.

Shirley said that the first day of school was moved for several reasons, including training teachers and parents for virtual learning.   

Parents were given the option of choosing virtual learning over a hybrid model, which included in-classroom instruction.

Through the virtual classroom, students will not physically attend school and will be taught via computer in their homes.

Students who do physically go to a school facility for instruction will follow one of two schedules by attending school on Monday and Wednesday or on Tuesday and Thursday. On the days students are not in the classroom, they would be learning through the virtual classroom.

Fridays would be reserved for teacher development, remedial work and cleaning of schools.

“51% to 52% percent of students will be taught virtually, which is more than we anticipated,” Shirley said.

Shirley said the school district wanted more time to train teachers on how to teach students in the virtual classroom, to distribute computer devices to parents and provide instruction to parents on how to use the devices.

Teachers reported to school on Thursday and paraprofessionals will report to work on Aug. 10.

Shirley said the extra two weeks will also provide time for the school district to make sure it was following safety guidelines and procedures as it relates to COVID-19.

“We want to make sure we have all of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed as far as our safety procedures are concerned,” Shirley said.

Shirley said the extra two weeks will also give the district time to make changes if the State of Louisiana moves into a new phase of its COVID-19 response plan. Currently, the state is in Phase 2 for schools, which allows for limited in-classroom instruction.

Shirley said Louisiana Gov. Jon Bell Edwards may discuss moving the state into Phase 3. Shirley said if the state moves into Phase 3, he will be allowed to put more kids in the classroom at one time and on school buses.

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