St. Landry Parish Schools strike threatened over new virtual program

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OPELOUSAS, LA (KLFY) — The St. Landry Parish School System is adjusting its online program to adapt for hybrid learning, but not every teacher, parent, or staff member agrees with the new system.

In the revised virtual learning academy: grades K-5 will have optional face to face instruction three hours a day, but grades six through twelve will have prerecorded mini-lessons through a service called Edgenuity. Those lessons will be with teachers outside the district and with similar yet different curriculum. Those teachers will be available for live questions during certain office hours.

At a Tuesday school board meeting, people asked for the current model for online instruction to stay in place or they will go on strike.

The current model for online teaching 6-12 grades is simply streaming classes live to those that choose to stay at home. Students at school or online got the same experience if their internet could handle it. That won’t be the case under the new program which is the cause of the uproar.

“Sit in, call in, stay at home, strike. Whatever word you want to use, we are prepared to go all the way,” warned Donald Broussard, a former St. Landry educator and coach.

He and other St. Landry Parish teachers, parents, staff, and students plan to go on strike if the school board goes into its virtual program as explained during the next phase of reopening schools.

During all virtual, teachers educated each student through live Google Meet classrooms. When some students returned to the classroom, those who didn’t stayed in Google Meets.

“And it’s worked just fine for ten of the eleven days, and we want to keep that plan in place,” expressed Mark Lazard II, an Opelousas Jr. High teacher.

He won’t have interaction with students under the new virtual program, Edgenuity, which will consist of prerecorded mini-lessons with a similar yet different curriculum.

“We’re attempting to match it as closely as possible. When I say content the materials they read might not be the same, but the standards will be the same,” explained a school system member.

Parents say they want each student to be on a level playing field and live Google Meets instruction allowed that.

“They deserve to have it the exact same way as a child that is sitting in the classroom,” said parent Jermaine Greene. “If you give us what we’re asking for, nobody is at this meeting.”

The school system said live virtual instruction was difficult for some rural students to access even with hot spots shipped to each home.

An AT&T representative said, “They are reachable with a cell signal but to transfer data and to transfer data a hundred percent with video takes a lot more bandwidth, so these hotspots are not working as they should.”

With all the issues preparing for kids for learning and items on backorder, people are saying they won’t be ready for a return to school until the district shows them they are ready.

Lazard said he doesn’t want to see kids not return to school, but he won’t encourage it if he feels the school district isn’t prepared to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. He arues, “Until that happens, I think the current parameters for virtual learning need to stay in place.

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