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Vernon Parish schools return to the classroom for the first time in 6 months

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 10:14 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 10:22 PM CDT
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VERNON PARISH, La. (KALB) - After six months, students in Vernon Parish finally made their way back to the classroom Monday morning with several new protocols in place.

“I see lots of good things currently,” Roger Atkins, the principal of Leesville Junior High School, said.

Social distancing and mask-wearing are both being enforced. Visitors will also be required to put on a mask before entering the building.

However, the pandemic is only one of the obstacles the district needed to overcome. Recently, several schools within the district took damage from Hurricane Laura.

“We had five teachers that were displaced,” Karen Robertson, the principal for West Leesville Elementary, said. “So, we moved them to other classrooms. And we had some supplies that were ruined from the rain, so we have several organizations that have provided supplies for them.”

Despite the challenges, overall administrators say everything went well, and students caught on to the new procedures quickly.

“Kids are almost accustomed to it,” Atkins said. “It’s almost like second nature, they are doing it on their own.”

“Other than getting them in safe and getting them home on time, it is just regular school for us,” Henry Lacking, the principal of Vernon Middle School, said.

The next step for the district will be moving into phase three.

“Phase three for us in our transition will look very similar to what we call normal,” James Williams, the superintendent of the Vernon Parish School Board, explained.

In phase three, high school students will no longer be on a hybrid model. They’ll be able to return to school for face-to-face classes all five days of the week, and students uncomfortable with returning to school could continue virtual learning if they prefer too.

Williams hopes the district will move into phase three.

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