(KLFY) Louisiana public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Governor John Bel Edward announced Wednesday.  

The state’s 1,300 public schools, which were ordered closed on Friday, March 16, will finish the school year using online classes, he said.

This does not mean an early summer. Rather, it means more work for teachers and students to keep their minds sharp during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Empty classrooms, empty playgrounds, empty buses will not translate into idle minds according to state education leaders.

“This is not the end of learning for this academic year. It’s just the end of them physically going to school campuses,” remarked Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

He promised programs providing meals and education will continue across the state, but they will look different. Distance learning will take the form of hi-tech video calls, but also low-tech delivery of materials to students without internet access.

“You can still communicate through parents and find different ways to keep that instruction going, but I’m not going sit here and pretend that that’s as good as it would be if we hadn’t canceled school. That’s why we didn’t take the decision lightly,” Edwards lamented.

Acting Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux is asking individual districts to make their own decisions regarding how students make it from one grade to the next.

“They will use a variety of school work to judge that. At this time we will likely not recommend pass-fail,’ said Scioneaux.

In addition to the 2019-2020 school year, the Governor said, “It’s not too early to start looking at what school looks like next school year because we’re not going to have the vaccine in place.”

Edwards elaborated even when the next school year begins, it will likely be without assemblies and with different starting and ending times to prevent mass gatherings.

“These are all things that our school districts will have to work through,” admitted the governor. “None of which is easy, and none of it is ideal, but it is necessary.”

Governor Edwards thanked senior students for their work. He assured all graduates that they will be celebrated, although he wasn’t sure what it would look like or when it would happen.

The decision was backed by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and other departments.  

Shortly after the governor’s announcement, Sandy Holloway, Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) president, issued the following statement.

“With the announcement of statewide school facilities closure for the rest of this academic year, we call on school districts to ensure learning for all students and the continuation of food service. We must now move ahead with a sense of urgency and thoughtfulness in developing plans for the future that address and correct learning gaps resulting from COVID-19. As such, I have tapped BESE Members Ashley Ellis and Preston Castille to take the lead for the Board in liaising with the Louisiana Department of Education as they outline an academic plan for the future. BESE remains committed to prioritizing students, their learning, and engaging stakeholders as our state navigates these unchartered waters. There will be many opportunities and challenges ahead as we continue to work together during these uncertain times; in the meantime, schools and school systems need to be supported in their decisions in providing services to all populations of students, encouraging the use of materials and resources that are already in use.”

Click here to read the Governor’s proclamation and stay tuned to KLFY on-air and online for more news on this developing story.