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Louisiana district delays school start after virus cases


In this March 6, 2020, photo, a classroom is seen vacant through a window at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, R.I., as the school remains closed following a confirmed case of the coronavirus. As a growing number of schools around the country close their doors because of the new coronavirus, they are confronted with the dilemma of whether to move classes online and run the risk of leaving behind the many students who don’t have internet or computers at home, or parents with flexible work schedule. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ZACHARY, La. (AP) — A Louisiana school district will delay the reopening of its schools by one week after nearly 20 teachers were infected with or exposed to the coronavirus and other staff members quit ahead of the year’s start, officials said.

The Zachary Community School Board voted unanimously Thursday to postpone its first day of classes to Aug. 17, news outlets reported. Instruction was originally set to begin Aug. 10 under a hybrid model, with part in-person and part virtual learning.

Seven teachers in the district outside of Baton Rouge have either tested positive for or are suspected of having the coronavirus, and an additional 12 reported possible exposure, according to Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier. Some tested positive before reporting to work on Monday, while others were identified afterward, the superintendent said.

Devillier asked attendees at the special meeting Thursday to consider applying to work for the district, saying its schools are facing a shortage of teachers for the first time, The Advocate reported. Some substitute teachers have also requested to be removed from the district’s list.

“We’ve lost a lot of people,” Devillier said.

Officials were trying to fill positions, but cautioned that it takes about two weeks for new candidates to be cleared to begin work.

“I can tell you when we start … it’s not going to be perfect,” Devillier added. “There’s going to be bumps in the road.”

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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