COVID-related absences at parish schools reported

Earnest Jones (left), custodian at Lakeside Jr/Sr High School, was named the parish school system’s Employee of the Month for January at Monday’s school board meeting. Presenting the award is Rodney Taylor of Taylor and Sons.

COVOD-19 and its omicron variant have been impacting the nation, and Webster Parish schools are seeing their share of students and faculty who have felt the effect of the disease.

Webster Parish school board members learned Monday that 734 COVID-related absences have been reported at schools through January 10 of this year. To date, no hospitalizations have been reported, board members learned.

Topping the list was Central Jr. High with 149 students and faculty reported absent, followed by North Webster Jr. High with 100. Figures were not available from Lakeside High School where classes were suspended last week in favor of online instruction. Numbers from Minden High School were also not available.

Assistant Superintendent Kevin Washington reported Lakeside and Doyline High School will be re-evaluating the COVID situation that has impacted both schools. Doyline was expected to report its status Tuesday while Lakeside has scheduled a report Wednesday.

Superintendent Johnny Rowland said teachers and students, along with staff at the central office, have been working diligently to overcome the difficulties caused by illness throughout the school system.

“We’re doing the impossible in impossible circumstances,” Rowland told board members. 

Also at Monday’s meeting, school board members voted unanimously (11-0 with one absent) to accept a redistricting plan submitted by Doug Mitchell of North Delta Regional Planning and Development District. 

Mitchell said the plan fell within the parameter allowed by the federal government that calls for only a 10 percent deviation in population numbers in the newly drawn districts from the last redistricting year (2010). Mitchell said board districts 2 and 6 were most imbalanced when planning began but those had been adjusted to meet guidelines.

Under the new plan, board districts 2, 7, 9 and 10 will be majority minority districts. Only districts 11 and 12 did not require realignment.

School board districts and Webster Parish Police Jury districts share common boundaries, and some discussion of a joint meeting between the two bodies to consider any objections was suggested. In response, Mitchell reminded board members of a deadline to approve the plan.

“Your plan must be approved four weeks prior to qualifying begins for the school board elections,” he said. “Qualifying for your election is July 26.”

Doug Mitchell of North Delta Regional Planning and Development District speaks with school board members.

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