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Schools dealt list of challenges and questions

CHRIS SCHOONOVER | Sports Editor
Leesville Daily Leader

While one big question has been answered, others are being figured out, including grades, graduation and transcripts.

"As a district, we were guided to have two different plans – one if we return and one if we don't," Leesville High School Principal Mark Mawae said. "Now that we know we are not going back, our focus is now on finalizing grades, getting transcripts out and determining what we need to do for graduation. As of now, the tentative plan is to have a virtual graduation because we can't have gatherings. It is terrible for students and parents, but we're given an order to stay at home. For the safety of the students in all of the parish, it's probably best we honor that."

Since schools were shut down on March 16, teachers have sent out work to students to keep them busy and their brain working, just in case school resumes. However, that may not be necessary, as students can keep their grades as they are or can complete work to bump them up a letter.

In a Fort Polk Town Hall on Thursday, Garrison Commander Colonel Ryan Roseberry talked about grade recovery packets, which are no-harm and can only elevate the grades. He said students will complete packets developed at the district level or by the teachers for core and elective subjects.

"I understand there are concerns out there, I have two children of my own," he said. "Concerns in the community, within the state and really across the nation from kindergarten through college. We will continue to do our part working with the districts, state, Army and the Department of Defense to ensure our children are taken care of."

The Vernon Parish School Board is currently accessing the abilities of students to complete work online via a technological survey.

Grades will be finalized on May 22, the original last day of the school year, with a virtual graduation to follow.

"A lot of people have a lot of questions, and we don't have all the answers because we're in uncharted territory," Mawae said. "There has been a lot sitting around then a lot of hurrying. It's been all over the map."

Prom, final athletic seasons and gradation – all things students wait their whole high school careers for – were stripped away because of COVID-19, and that is not lost on school administrators.

"It's not that we don't want those kids to not have those moments, it's about what we do as a community when the CDC and state has set guidelines about social distancing and getting together in large groups," Mawae said. "We have to find other ways to celebrate these groups."