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School Board speaks out on school closures

by Joshua Specht

Superintendent of the Webster Parish School Board Johnny Rowland went to Facebook with a video to parents, students, and school board employees regarding the recent COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to end the academic school year. 

“As you all know, we are living in unprecedented times, the likes that none of us have ever seen in our lifetime and with this pandemic comes uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.  We understand that many of our families are struggling right now and we hope to be a source of support and encouragement as we work through this together,” said Rowland. 

“First, I would like to applaud the employees in our district who have worked tirelessly to provide appropriate instructional materials and resources to our families while we are no longer meeting face to face with our students.  We will continue this method throughout the summer leading up to the 2020-21 school year. While we acknowledge the manner in which we are working right now is not ideal, but we feel it is important to maintain as much connection with you as possible until we meet again in person for the 2020-21 school year.”

Addressing the 2020 Seniors of the Webster Parish School District, Rowland said, “There has never been nor will there ever be a class like yours again. We know that you have been impacted in the most dramatic of ways and we want to assure you and your families that we are diligently working to plan a special graduation ceremony in the future that we can all be a part of and celebrate your accomplishments!”

He also stated that as soon as they have more details about the ceremony, he would let the public know. 

“To all of our other students, you are to be commended for being so resilient, cooperative, and dedicated to your families and schools. District-level staff have worked hand in hand with school administrators and teachers to ensure your immediate academic needs are being met,” said Rowland. 

Rowland also stated that the nutrition programs would continue on at their six serving sites, those being Central Elementary School, Doyline High School, J.A. Phillips Elementary School, Webster Junior High School, North Webster High School, and North Webster Upper Elementary School, and shared some words of gratitude to those who keep the program running. 

“The ladies who have been on the front line of these programs truly deserve our gratitude,” said Rowland.  “They have stepped up and worked in challenging conditions to continue to provide nutritious meals to our students in the district and their efforts do not go unnoticed and are greatly appreciated!”

He also encouraged people to monitor the COVID-19 portal that is located on the home page of the school board’s website web-site at websterpsb.org. This portal is for finding the most up-to-date information regarding the school system. 

He also stated that campuses are to remain closed and that if anybody has a need to contact their respective school, to please email their principal or call school.

“We anxiously await the day when we are all together again in the school buildings, ballparks, and football fields. We hope that day is soon, but in the meantime, please stay healthy, safe, and know that the Webster Parish School Board is here to help,” said Rowland.

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