LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Changes are coming to Lafayette Parish schools for expecting and parenting students.

The Lafayette Parish School Board voted Wednesday to adopt new policies in hopes of encouraging student parents to continue their education.

Female and male student parents will get excused absences for labor and delivery, medical appointments, and a child’s illness.

New mothers will be able to breastfeed and breast pump at school in accommodations provided by the school.

LPSS says student parents will also be able to make up any work missed.

The school board says it wants to make sure all parenting and expecting students have the same as every other student.

Teachers at the meeting say this policy is a great thing.

“They’re going to have enough challenges being a young person with a baby. To give them all the support they need is important because they’re going to experience those challenges, and we know those challenges can become generational,” Julia Reed, President of the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, said.

Reed says this policy will give students the time they need to transition into parenthood, while being encouraged to continue their studies.

“As a teacher, I can’t do anything for them if they’re not at school. Hopefully, informing them of their options as far as childcare and giving them support, like if they’re choosing to be a breastfeeding mother, having the option to come to school and express their breast milk at school, it’s a blessing to be able to encourage them to come back,” she added.

Minister and community leader Kerry Williams agrees.

“It’s a great idea for our students to stay in school. It’s great for our parents because they won’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m very excited. The school board made a great decision on that,” Williams said.

“I think it’s so important that we have the support on that, and I’m so glad. I think it just shows that Lafayette Parish has the best interests of our students in mind,” Reed added.

The policy will go into effect this school year. No one opposed the school board’s decision to adopt the new policy.