NewsCovering Louisiana


UPDATE: Governor will suspend major education laws

Posted at 6:57 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 23:45:16-04

UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to the state's education community today, advising that the state is working to waive major portions of Louisiana's education laws.

The waivers are necessary because of the state's efforts to "flatten the curve" on COVID-19, including the closure of all schools until mid-April - at least. The governor writes that federal approval of some of the waivers will be necessary, and state officials will work toward obtaining that approval.

Among the things that will be waived are: all LEAP and end-of-course testing; all school and district accountability evaluations; all state-ordered teacher evaluations; all student attendance requirements; all teacher work day requirements and all the state's requirements on charter schools regarding application and enrollment periods.

This sets up all public school systems to remain closed for the remainder of the school year, and even if the systems do re-open in April, they would not be required to make up work or days that were missed.

Here's a statement from the Governor's office about the letter:

"While at this time it’s planned for K-12 students to return to school on April 13, because the long-term impacts of the coronavirus are unknown, Gov. Edwards, BESE, DOE, the legislature and teachers are working collaboratively to address the potential impacts for students and teachers when it comes to testing, accountability, school attendance and other important areas," a spokeswoman said.

You can read the letter for yourself, here's the post from a Louisiana educator:

Earlier today, we told you that the acting State Superintendent of Education has asked BESE's president, and the president has agreed, to waive a number of requirements on local school systems and child care centers.

"I am requesting a waiver of BESE rules to support Louisiana local education agencies (LEA) and early childhood centers severely impacted by the recent COVID-19 public health emergency," writes Beth Scioneaux, Acting Louisiana State Superintendent of Education.

"If approved, these waivers of BESE rules will be subject to the ratification of the state board at its next regularly scheduled meeting and will be immediately communicated to impacted persons and entities as they attempt to respond to this devastating event," Scioneaux writes.

In her letter to BESE President Sandy Holloway, Scioneaux outlines a number of requirements that will be waived, including instructional minute requirements, student teacher hour requirements and a lot of rules that govern how day care centers operate.

The state's "instructional minute" requirements govern how long kids have to go to school each year. Without that waiver, state students would have to make up the days they're missing right now as schools are shut down.

The student teacher hour requirement waiver would be necessary for anyone who was doing their student teaching this semester, and now can't make the required hours because schools are shut down.

And, the child care center requirement waivers are needed so that those centers can meet the needs of parents employed in the health care industry.

"The waiver requests within this section allow households to remain eligible despite upcoming expirations and the possibility of their children having to be absent from their center. The requests also allow the LDOE to support Type III centers - and specifically their staff - by continuing to issue CCAP payments despite having potentially lower attendance. This will allow the child care workforce to remain as stable as possible during this time of uncertainty," Scioneaux writes.

Here's the full order: