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The Concordia Parish School Board approved a hybrid plan – a combination of on campus instruction and virtual learning -- to reopen schools next month.

The board also agreed during its regular meeting July 9 to hold a special meeting to discuss Superintendent Whest Shirley’s contract. Board member Ricky Raven brought up the matter, noting that Shirley’s contract expires on Dec. 31.

Concerning reopening schools, the hybrid plan approved includes having students at school facilities two days a week while virtual instruction will be used the rest of the week.

Two other options considered were a complete return to the classrooms or going totally virtual.

Supporting the hybrid plan were Warren Enterkin, Dorothy Parker, Raymond Riley, Derrick Carson, Fred Butcher and Angela Hayes.

Voting against were John Bostic, Lisette Forman and Raven.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools across the state and country closed this spring. School boards are now determining how to reopen for the 2020-21 school year.

Bostic, who represents the Monterey area, along with Karen Edwards, representing a group from Monterey, said they favored returning students to schools fulltime in August.

“A lot of people in Monterey want me to express that we go a five-day week with all students present,” Bostic said.

He said there also were “wi-fi issues” that would make virtual lessons impossible for some students in that area.

Riley expressed concern about both children and teachers who may have health issues being required to return to school five days a week. He favored the hybrid plan.

Before the vote, Shirley said the “big question on everyone’s mind is how to we open in August. We want to open them up. Nothing replaces face to face instruction.”

But he said the guidelines set up by the state call for a different approach for schools, which have been closed to campus study since March.

He said any reopening option chosen by the board should “give parents the option to learn from home virtually” and particularly for children with medical issues.

Concerning technology needs, Shirley said 2,700 computer devices have been ordered and should be in the hands of students by October.

Shirley said a technology team will be available to assist students, parents and teachers.

He said 85 percent of the parents surveyed felt comfortable with their service providers, but Bostic said some areas in Monterey have a difficult time to getting connected through AT&T.

Technology Supervisor Sarah Caviness said AT&T and Horizon are putting up temporary towers for access although there is no timeline.

Shirley said internet access points will be available at various locations. He said a student could access a hotspot in a school parking lot where their assignments can be downloaded. The library also has hotspots.

All devices handed out to students will have filters.

The administration staff has been working with teachers throughout the parish to prepare for the upcoming school year, Shirley said, with training slated in August.

Board member Derrick Carson complemented the superintendent, staff and others for their work in preparing the technology needs.

In other business, the board:

Approved a resolution supporting Johnny Hoffpauir upon his induction in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Superintendent Fred Butcher then named Raven to head up a committee to look at honoring other parish coaches not being considered for the hall of fame.

Approved the payment of June invoices totaling $7,030,140

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