Bossier Parish parents share mixed reactions on sending students back to school

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BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, so do concerns with sending kids back to school this fall.

The Louisiana Department of Education has released some school reopening guidelines for next school year that leave a lot of room for districts to make their own decisions.

“If we have to question if it’s safe for them to go back, then I don’t really feel good about them going back to school,” said Samantha Harris.

Harris knows kids can be curious.

“With my elementary school kids, I can’t guarantee that I feel good about them going and not touching something behind someone else,” she said.

The mother of nine said some of the health precautions like wearing masks are a little harder for younger kids to grasp.

“I work in the customer service industry, and having to wear a mask all the time – I don’t even like it,” Harris said. “It’s irritating and hot, and trying to tell my six-year-old, ‘Hey, it’s in your best interest to keep that on…'”

While older students can be more trusted to follow the health guidelines.

“I think for the high school kids and, you know, probably most middle schoolers, that they’ll be OK,” said Christi Rhodes.

Rhodes said her daughter, Bella, will be a sophomore this year and is ready to resume her high school experience.

“There’s just nothing like being in the classroom connecting with that teacher,” she said.

The trick is finding a way to do that, while keeping everyone involved safe.

“We know that our students need to be in some form of school, whether that’s fully congregate in the school building, or that’s fully distance,” said Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley. “And our parents need that for our kids, and our economy needs that for our students.”

“This year, I think, is gonna be a real challenge for us, but that’s OK,” said Red River United Teachers Union President Jackie Lansdale. “Because, you know, we in public education, that’s kind of the name of the game for us.”

The Red River United Teachers Union is surveying its nearly 3,000 members in Caddo, Bossier and Red River Parishes for their thoughts on continuing children’s education this school year – whether in-person or virtually.

“Everybody understands, especially us in education, the stabilizing influence that a school has for boys and girls,” said Lansdale.

And some parents are putting their faith in the school district’s decisions.

“I know that they have the best interest of our kids at heart,” said Rhodes. “They want them to be safe, they want them to have a healthy environment to be in.”

The Bossier Parish School Board is inviting feedback from parents on different schooling scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year. You can share your thoughts here.

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