ALL SCHOOLS CANCELLED UNTIL APRIL 13: Governor says no gathering of more than 250 people allowed

Published 3:17 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

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Editor’s Note: This story was edited significantly with the release of the governor’s proclamation minutes before the print publication deadline on Friday afternoon. This is all the information immediately available at press time. The situation is fluid and changing by the hour. All updates will be posted online at

LAPLACE — All K-12 schools are closed and no gathering of more than 250 people will be allowed until Monday, April 13 in accordance with Governor John Bel Edwards’ recent proclamation to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Louisiana.

As of mid-day Friday, Louisiana has 33 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. This number includes one presumptive case in St. Charles Parish announced Friday.

The Governor’s proclamation mandates the closing of all public and private schools in the state from Monday, March 16 to Monday, April 13. The Governor addressed this order at his 3 p.m. joint media briefing with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell at New Orleans City Hall, which was also live-streamed at

Governor Edwards

“We are at an inflection point now, and we are going to take bold action to minimize the further spread of this illness. That is why I am issuing this order today, ending all events of more than 250 people, closing our schools and reducing the amount of face-to-face public interaction at state government buildings,” Gov. Edwards said.

“In a separate executive order, I will grant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s request to move our upcoming elections for April and May to June and July. The limits on gatherings of 250 people or more statewide is based on federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance given the community spread which we are currently experiencing. These steps are necessary to protect the health and safety of the people of Louisiana from the risk of COVID-19.”

St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools released the following statement following Friday’s announcement: “We will be following the governor’s directive and closing all schools in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District from Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 13, and most likely beyond due to that date falling during the previously scheduled Easter holiday. We have been putting plans in place in preparation for this scenario and will release more information to parents when those details are finalized.”

School officials were not anticipating a closure as of Thursday evening’s School Board meeting. However, school officials and district curriculum specialists were working diligently to ensure a plan was in place to continue educational opportunities for all students in the event of school closings.

Cory Butler, interim superintendent for St. John Parish Public Schools, said take-home packages were being put together for kindergarten through eighth grade students. He said K-8 students with Internet access would also be able to access websites with supplemental learning materials.

Plans for ninth through 12th grade students were still in the works as of Friday morning. At Thursday’s School Board meeting, Butler said high school students would be surveyed to determine how many students have Internet access, whether through a cell phone or computer. Curriculum facilitators were looking into the availability of using an online educational program for these students. No further information from St. John Schools regarding the closure was immediately available at press time.

Jennifer Boquet, communications director for St. John Parish Public Schools, said custodial staff has spent the past weeks conducting additional cleaning in classrooms and main buildings. Transportation specialists disinfested buses before students were picked up in the morning and after dropping them off in the afternoon. School nurses also visited classrooms to teach proper hand-washing techniques and how to cover coughs.

Dr. Dale Doty, chancellor of River Parishes Community College (which will also be closed through April 13, as with all colleges across the state) released a statement regarding the Reserve campus employee in self- isolation. The employee was exposed to one of the individuals who tested positive for coronavirus locally.

According to Doty, “The employee has reported no symptoms and self-isolated by recommendation of a consulted physician.” The self-isolation period is nearing its end. Federal patient privacy laws protect the employee’s identity and personal information.

“We will share everything possible that is appropriate, helpful and lawful,” Doty said.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin held a press conference to address the postponement of elections due to coronavirus. Over half of Louisiana’s polling commissioners are over the age of 65, according to a press release, and the CDC warns that older adults and those who have chronic medical conditions are most at risk for serious illness from coronavirus.

Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin has pushed back the upcoming elections due to public health concerns.

The April 4 Presidential Preference Primary and Municipal Primary election will be held on June 20. Early voting will be conducted June 6 through June 13 (excluding Sunday, June 7). The May 9 Municipal General election will be held on July 25. Early voting will be conducted July 11 through July 18 (excluding Sunday, July 12). The two-month delay will allow officials to procure necessary supplies to put Louisiana in the best possible posture to conduct elections.

Louisiana’s 211 network is answering community questions about coronavirus. The service is available 24 hours a day. Dial 211 or text LACOVID to 898-211 for more information