JP principal confident in return-to-school plan, teacher union pushing back on start date

Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Any other year Grace King High School would welcome back more than 1300 students to campus. But given the hybrid learning structure, Principal Sharon Meggs-Hamilton says there will only be 400 students there a day.

“We can very easily manage that yes with 400 students on campus I’ve never worked in a school with 400 students on campus so I’m looking forward to that,” Meggs-Hamilton said.

Meggs-Hamilton hopes teachers feel more at ease knowing she and her administrative team worked several long hours to figure out how to transition teachers and students back to the classroom safely.

“My plan is probably 50 pages. I feel like it’s one that’s necessary and its comprehensive enough that it will put us in a good place for the start of the year,” she said.

The Jefferson Parish school district set out its Start Strong guidelines and expected school principals to adapt it to their specific sites. At Grace King, they’re mapping classrooms, establishing one-ways in hallways, and plan to group classrooms so there’s not a lot of overlap in case of illness.

“The teachers when they come back we’re going to afford them opportunity to give input on the plan… our teachers have to create a plan for their classrooms because they know what activities are happening in their classrooms,” Meggs-Hamilton said.

“They may have the plans but the problem is I know a lot of the principles in charge of making those decisions staff still hasn’t heard the plans yet, I think they’re trying to present them to them in person when they start next week but a lot of people are saying wait a minute I want to know the details before I walk into the building I need to ensure that I’m safe,” Kesler Camese-Jones said.

Jefferson Parish teacher union leader, Kesler Camese-Jones says teachers overall are receiving conflicting, confusing information. That’s why they’re pushing the district to push back the start of school.

“Let’s delay so we can get it right and as I’ve said it is a matter of life and death,” Camese-Jones said.

There’s been more to prepare for the start of school than ever before, but Meggs-Hamilton hopes teachers, students, and families feel confident in their plan.

“So there’s no blueprint for this so we have to be able to be fluid enough that when we recognize there’s something that needs to be addressed we address it immediately,” Meggs-Hamilton said.

The school district said all school principals across the district have submitted similar start-of-school plans, and all of those plans meet the district’s standards.

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