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Public schools to close Thursday, Friday amid illness surge

Reopening planned for Tuesday as COVID, flu, others drive absences
Caleb Daniel
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
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A surge of COVID-19 and other illnesses among students and staff is forcing the Lincoln Parish School District to close all schools Thursday and Friday.

Schools are slated to reopen Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The closure also includes A.E. Philipps Laboratory School.

District administration announced the move Wednesday morning after recording a 23% student absentee rate across the parish, as well as an uptick in teacher absences that’s overflowing the district’s substitute capacity.

“Yesterday we only had five or six teachers that we knew would be absent today,” Assistant Superintendent John Young said. “This morning we shot up to 20, and that’s the number unfilled by substitutes.”

Young said athletics coaches have been running morning bus routes to replace ill drivers over the past few days, and teachers have used their planning periods to cover for each other, but the absentee rate was too great to sustain.

“It’s not just COVID,” he said. “We’ve seen upticks of the flu, stomach bugs, a myriad of issues mixed in with COVID.”

There will be no virtual learning or meal provision during this two-day closure. The current grading period will be extended two school days, now ending on Jan. 19 with report cards going home Jan. 24.

Elementary and middle school sports will be suspended for the time being, but Young said high school varsity sports will be allowed to continue due to the difficulty of rescheduling district games.

All campuses and buses will receive a deep clean tonight and will then be empty until Tuesday.

We’re asking that our employees and students take precautions (during the closure and weekend),” Young said. “We don’t want to get back on Tuesday and be in a worse spot than we’re in now.”

The private Cedar Creek School in Ruston, meanwhile, reopened on Wednesday after closing due to COVID absences on Monday and Tuesday.

Grambling's Lincoln Preparatory School is in its second week of virtual learning after shutting in-person instruction following the holiday break, also due to COVID.