By Josh Beavers
Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland discussed the new state mask mandate during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Webster Parish School Board.
The mask mandate applies to all schools grades k-12 and begins Wednesday. It may be lifted on Sept 1, but Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the temporary order could be extended.
Superintendent Rowland told board members the district has followed the guidelines outlined by the governor as well as the Louisiana Department of Education and the Region Seven Health Department. He said that will continue as Louisiana remains No. 1 nationwide for the number of new COVID-19 cases per capita.
Rowland said the district’s Covid response team was already scheduled to meet before the governor made his announcement. The team will continue with its regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting and announce specific guidelines to parents, students, faculty, and staff soon.
“We went through this last year, and we have a much better idea of how to handle things,” Rowland told the board. “We do not have as much to fear because of our experiences last year.”
“Our mission is to work harder than ever to make up for gaps,” Rowland said regarding instructional time missed last year due to Covid. “We can’t take the attitude that whatever happened just happened because our children will be behind for the rest of their lives.”
He dubbed the 2021-2022 school year “the year of the intervention.” He went on to explain it is up to the district to build on the success of summer programs to shore up gaps in learning.
“We did well this summer,” he said. “But my challenge to each employee of this school system, no matter what position you hold, is to ask yourself what can I do? What can I do from the position I hold to make things better for the whole student?”
Ursula Hullaby, safe schools coordinator and community liaison, gave the board an update on the upcoming Back to School Bash as well as the recently completed Pack the Bus initiative.
She said the Webster Parish School System is partnering with the LSU Health and Science Center to offer free Covid vaccines to children ages 12 and up during the annual Back to School Bash on August 9.
LSUHC will be providing free Pfizer vaccines for students (ages 12 and up) from 9 am to 2 pm at the NWHS Library in Springhill and at the front entrance of the J. E. Harper Pathways to Excellence Center in Minden (Germantown Road).
A parent must be present in order for the child to receive the vaccine.
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