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Letter: Schools should find new ways to reach out to kids

St. Mary Excel, a 501c(6) organization, exists to promote economic development for educational and cultural advancement. At this time of need, we offer the following letter to broaden the perspectives of educational emergency response.
Across the country, Americans are feeling the effects of this pandemic emergency. How will St. Mary Parish emerge as a community? Will we be stronger for it? We can identify and support the essential workers around us- but how will we care for them when the threat subsides?
The one thread that holds us together is our educational system.
On April 15, 2020, the governor indicated that schools will not be closed— just that students will not be going back to campus. The governor’s statement makes a school board plan very important for the nine weeks of instruction that St. Mary Parish students will miss.
We know that St. Mary Parish’s talented teachers remain ready to guide online learning. Private schools in the area have done so and, surely if asked, are ready to share best practices.
St. Mary Parish Schools could plan to direct learning from home by:
—Conducting an inventory of internet availability across the parish
—Finding out an exact number of students with no computers in the home
—Identifying the computers in the system available to lend to students
—Appropriate training of teachers on online methods and resources
—Utilizing the internet academic courses currently being used in parish
—Developing a future plan to insure food and nutrition needs of students
—Developing a plan to address the needs of special needs students
—Developing a plan to provide additional assistance to students with particular learning issues
—Insuring adequate communication methods which would insure that all parents are contacted and have opportunities for input
Let’s hope at this time of unprecedented challenges that our school system once again rises to the needs of St. Mary Parish students and ensures that all of our children and their families are supported during the economic crisis.
We hope the system finds ways to utilize the many new opportunities available through federal government emergency funds to consolidate our strengths and eliminate our weaknesses.
After all, our social distancing will not end the spread of the virus and we need to be ready if, in
August, the virus resurrects through a second round of community infection. Let’s all pull together!
St. Mary Excel


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