Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Schools, universities respond to coronavirus

K-12 closed through April 13; Tech, GSU move to online classes
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Article Image Alt Text

As President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday related to the outbreak of COVID-19, or coronavirus, another host of cancellations and precautionary efforts were made at the state and local levels.

Among them is the closing of all K-12 public schools in Louisiana starting Monday and ending April 13, as well as a ban on all gatherings of 250 people or more, by order of Gov. John Bel Edwards Friday afternoon. Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University both announced they are transitioning all classes to online-only instruction starting Monday in the interest of campus safety.

As of Friday afternoon, there were still no confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus in Lincoln Parish, while the total statewide had risen to 33.

K-12 schools

Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Mike Milstead said all schools and all events associated with schools closed after the school day Friday, with the exception of athletic activities continuing through the weekend, including Simsboro High School’s March 14 boys basketball championship game in Lake Charles.

“At that point this will be a total shutdown: no events, no practices,” he said. “If we’re going to be out, we’re going to be all the way out.”

Cedar Creek School announced late Friday it will follow suit for one week, closing schools through March 20 with the intent to reassess the situation at that time and make a ruling about future closures.

A.E. Phillips Laboratory School and Lincoln Preparatory School will also be closed through April 13.

Milstead said the public school district will not pursue the option of offering online instruction during the down time, since the school system only has partial capability to do so.

“It wouldn’t be fair to give that to some and not to others,” he said.

Pay for teachers and other personnel will continue as if the almost month of closure were a holiday. Hourly employees will get their regular pay rate.

Schools will continue to offer lunches throughout the down time, as a large population of low-income families depend on the free meals the district provides. Milstead said the school system is working on ordering enough packable food supplies to start delivering the lunches to homes, but until then they will be served in the schools’ cafeterias.

“I’m not quite sure if we’ll be ready by lunch time Monday,” he said. “But the goal is to have lunches available for the whole time we’re closed.”

He said that did not include the regularly scheduled spring break, from March 30 to April 3. Serving breakfasts is also being considered, but a final ruling on that has not been made.

“I feel like the kids were very safe at school, and we don’t think we’d have large numbers of children contracting the virus,” Milstead said. “But the governor has a lot more information than we do, so we’ll defer to that decision and support it.”

Louisiana Tech University

“Beginning Monday, March 16 we will transition to an all online or other alternative method of course delivery,” an announcement from Tech Friday reads. “Some adjustments to laboratory and studio courses that are in more controlled environments will be made.”

While in-person classes are closing, the campus will remain open, including housing and dining services. Student workers will still be able to work at their jobs on campus.

While it is offering training on various online instruction services like Moodle and Zoom, the university is largely leaving it up to individual instructors to coordinate the logistics of online classes with their students.

In addition, all events expected to draw 50 or more people have been cancelled.

“The coming weeks will require a great deal of flexibility and understanding as we all work through this together,” the notice reads. “Please remain supportive and respectful to one another.”

For more information, visit

Grambling State University

In addition to moving to online-only classes GSU is also in the process of transitioning students to off-campus living.

“Students may begin the process of vacating campus for the remainder of the semester by contacting the Office of Campus Living,” a Friday press release reads. “The University urges all students to vacate campus no later than March 23.”

Dining services will continue through March 23. Normal administrative functions will continue, and campus personnel are expected to continue reporting to their jobs unless otherwise notified.

“We are actively taking every possible measure to ensure that our campus avoids contributing to the spread of novel coronavirus,” GSU President Rick Gallot said.

For more information, visit