ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) The St. Landry Parish Association of Educators President Jamal Taylor has announced that all K-12 public school students in the parish will start the school year in virtual classrooms.

Taylor says the move is necessary to both slow the spread of the coronavirus and to give schools administrators time to figure out how to best protect students.

“We organized, talked, spoke out and the board members heard us,” Taylor said.

“They all agreed, and tonight’s vote was unanimous.”

While it didn’t take long for the board to make a definite decision during Wednesday’s board meeting, District 1 school board member Anthony Standberry said the matter of returning to the classroom will be up for discussion after the first nine weeks.

“Right now, I’m just not a proponent of putting our kids back into the classroom,” Standberry said. “We will start them off virtually, follow their progress, and see where this goes.”

St. Landry Parish is the first school district in the state to make the announcement that students would start the year in virtual classrooms.

“And I think this sends a message that says our students and educational professionals matter more than politics,” Taylor said. “Lets get our people safe first, and then we can address in-person schooling.”

With roughly 13,000 students enrolled in the parishes 30 public schools, Willie Singleton-Guillory, president of the St. Landry Parish Federation of Teachers( 3546) said Wednesday’s vote is a big win for everyone.

“This is a big, big win for everyone involved, but especially for our children.”

She said a survey conducted by the federation found that more than 59% of educators and parents were not in favor of returning to in-person instruction.

“This decision today will also play a big role in helping the school system to attract, but mostly retain our most qualified teachers.”