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Teachers and parents hoping for state to waive required instructional school minutes following Ida

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Hurricane Ida’s damage means students in 42 Jefferson Parish schools will not go back to class until October 1.

The district now trying to find a way to remedy the required 63,720 minutes of instructional school time but some teachers argue that’s an arbitrary number.

“Teachers want to be with their kids but we’ve got a remember there are whole communities that lost everything,” said Ann Marie Coviello.

The district asked teachers and parents their opinions on making up lost time by extending the school day, extending the school calendar, and/or adjusting holidays and breaks.

Ann Marie Coviello works as a librarian at a tier three school, and says what the options don’t take into account are the multiple crises southeast Louisiana teachers, staff, and students have endured.

“Kids can’t concentrate indefinitely. Why do you feel the need to take away agency from the people that you know are your frontline workers and are the good people who will be making real differences in children’s lives,” said Coviello.

More than 2000 people have signed a petition in a day’s time asking the state to waive the required 63,720 minutes as they did during COVID.

“The only way to make this makes sense is to take away this big legal structure of counting every second the butts in seat mentality. That’s not what education is it’s not about how many minutes you do it’s about how well you do with those minutes and what you do with those minutes. When you don’t invest in people and you’re going to lose your best people,” said Coviello.

A special education teacher at a tier three school, Marquesha Moore also signed the petition.

She says if the district doesn’t waive the minutes she could be one of those teachers they lose.

“There are some kids who hate school already and drawing out they don’t understand a hurricane devastated the community. When you feel like you’re pushed to your limit and the environment is stressful and the limitations that are placed on you are more than what you can bear you have to learn to create healthy boundaries,” said Moore.

According to the school district, they do not have the authority to waive instructional minutes only the governor at the request of the state.

The state board of education has yet to respond to my request for comment.

The Jefferson Parish school board plans to meet Monday to address the results of the calendar survey.

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