Franklin Parish High School graduation has yet to be scheduled as school officials continue to closely monitor how Louisiana governmental officials handle the COVID-19 pandemic, said School Superintendent John Gullatt.
The announcement, which closely resembled last month’s sentiment, was made Monday at the School Board’s regular May meeting.
“We are in the process of figuring out the best way to do graduation for our parish,” Gullatt said. “We are trying to work out the details, and once we are comfortable with what we have worked out, we will see what is the best way to go about it.”
School Board officials’ biggest concern with a “face-to-face graduation” is keeping participants and attendees a safe social distance from each other.
“What we are going to need is cooperation from parents and the general public not to rush to the fence to take pictures as best as possible,” Gullatt said.
School Board member Alaina Nichols advised school officials, parents desired a ceremony even if it was not a “traditional” event.
“(Parents) just want their child to have something that shows they have graduated,” Nichols said. “If it is not like we normally do it, as long as they have pictures and it shows them they were allowed to walk. They want something to show we have tried.”
Gullatt assured School Board members his staff was working on avenues to have graduation and school but was working within the parameters set by the state government.
“This is going to be my attitude from the summer to the fall and whatever it brings,” Gullatt said. “We will do what we have to do by the guidelines that is set and make them work for Franklin Parish as best as we can do because our situation is not going to be the same as Ouachita
or Richland or Caldwell, but the framework will be the same.”
In a related matter, Gullatt again reminded School Board members Franklin Parish schools’ scholastic and athletic calendars could change. In his meetings with state officials, Gullatt said numerous school procedure scenarios have been discussed.
“We are taking the assumption we are going to start school in our buildings in August just as we planned on the school calendar,” Gullatt said. “We will proceed from there. Athletically, same thing. We are going to proceed until we are told otherwise.”
Last month, School Board members approved next year’s calendar.
If school is delayed or students and teachers are sent home due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials are prepared to continue distance learning whether through take home paper packets or through online courses, Gullatt said.
“We would have connectivity through Google Classroom, Google Hangout, and we are going to do professional development before we start school so our teachers will know how to use Google Classroom and Google Hangout,” Gullatt said. “We are ready for that in case we have to do it again. I hope we don’t.”
Gullatt told School Board members school systems were far different than the general public with current social distancing and re-opening requirements.
“Just remember when (Gov. John Bel Edwards) makes his statements a lot of what he is dealing with is the general public and essential businesses,” Gullatt said. “(School systems) are a different scenario. What he says does not necessarily reflect on what we have to do on the school level.”
Meanwhile, parish schools will begin summer closeout procedures such as cleaning classrooms and student report card pickup in mid-May. After schools are closed out, summer improvement projects will begin.