Most school sites return to full-day schedules, with exception of ESJ

Published 2:32 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

RESERVE — Most school sites in St. John the Baptist Parish returned to full-day schedules this week as the District entered Phase Two of its tiered return to school plan.

The exception is East St. John, which is continuing to platoon in morning and evening shifts at host school Leon Godchaux.

Director of School Improvement Rebecca Johnson provided an update on the school sites during Tuesday’s School Board meeting. While most sites are up and running, reopening dates have not yet been determined for East St. John High School’s main building, LaPlace Elementary and Emily C. Watkins Elementary.

The STEM building on East St. John’s campus, formerly known as the freshman building, has reopened to STEM/Magnet Program students on a full-day schedule.

Fifth Ward Elementary is currently hosting LaPlace Elementary students in Pre-K through second grade, while East St. John Preparatory Academy will continue to serve as the host site for SJAP/Connections and LaPlace Elementary third through eighth graders.

Meanwhile, Lake Pontchartrain Elementary continues to host Emily C. Watkins students.

Johnson reported that all elementary schools, including those sharing a school site, have transitioned out of the platoon schedule and returned to the original start/stop times that were in place prior to Hurricane Ida.

While John L. Ory was not cleared to welcome students early this week, administration expects the site will be open to staff and scholars on Thursday, November 4. According to Johnson, Ory families were given an opportunity to pick up work packets for asynchronous learning days on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Johnson said scholars who are displaced may still enroll in virtual learning through November 19. Technology for virtual instruction is being distributed from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School.

“We are looking forward to many of our scholars returning to in-person learning. Students can continue with virtual learning, but if they want to return to school in-person, it would be on November 19 for the elementary schools. For high schools, it would be February 2,” Johnson said. “We will receive numbers by next Friday of the number of virtual scholars who intend to return to in person. We understand that we may have to revise our virtual plans because we have so many scholars wanting to return to in-person. We are receiving phone calls daily.”

Superintendent Dr. Lynett Hookfin said the District has experienced some challenges with transportation since schools reopened, leading to some parents receiving personal phone calls to resolve issues.

“Due to the fact that we are back in person, full day, at many of our campuses, this should alleviate the transportation issues that we have had before,” Hookfin said, recognizing that the challenges in recent weeks have caused inconveniences for parents.

The Transportation Hotline is being operated by staff members from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. through November 5 at 985-536-7790.

Transportation is also provided to before and aftercare through St. John Parish Schools’ new partnership with New Wine Christian Fellowship. New Wine’s Kids on the Move program offers childcare from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also provides tutoring and STEM activities to students. The registration link can be found at kidsonthemovela.org.

Hookfin noted that, at East St. John in particular, there is a level of concern across the Board about learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida. The administrative team convened today to discuss strategies moving forward.

Administration is working on a revised academic calendar for the 2021-2022 school year. At this time, three asynchronous learning days (self-paced learning tasks outside of school) have been added to the following holidays to make up for instructional minutes lost during Hurricane Ida closures:

  • Thanksgiving – Monday, Nov. 22 and Tuesday, Nov. 23
  • Christmas – Monday, Dec. 20 and Tuesday, Dec. 21
  • Mardi Gras – Thursday, March 3 and Friday, March 4
  • Easter – Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 21

The school year is tentatively scheduled to end on June 7, 2022.