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School district seeks to maintain quality service despite setbacks

Parish school system works through adversity caused by economic downturn, COVID-19

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Despite a pandemic year and several economic setbacks, the Iberia Parish School District is still trying to maintain its quality service to the children of Iberia Parish.

Superintendent of Schools Carey Laviolette said there have been several advancements made in the past year despite COVID-19 causing a serious setback in administering curriculum.

The IPSD was able to provide a 1:1 ratio of student devices for learning in the classroom as well as virtually, meaning every child in the district was provided a laptop.

Both face-to-face and full virtual learning options were given for students in the past year, a feat that took quite a bit of planning during the summer. Additionally, internet access was provided for students learning from home using hotspots, and professional training was conducted for teachers to ensure virtual teaching at a moment’s notice.

Laviolette said staffing was maintained even during the tough economic times, and mitigation measures were used to ensure the safety of staff and students.

All the while, the S&P bond rating for the school district was held at AA-.

“COVID-19 had an impact on all school districts across America including the Iberia Parish School District,” Laviolette said. “It required us to not only live the emergency management practices that we had on paper, but test their effectiveness every day.”

Credit was largely given to the teamwork of the school board, school administrators, teachers and support staff.

For the coming year, Laviolette said the district has several goals in mind. Those include providing spring, summer and fall intervention to capture the learning loss caused by the shutdown.

Providing support for students and staff who are experiencing emotional struggles is also a priority, as well as more practical matters like conducting HVAC improvements to ensure healthy air quality, the superintendent said.

Laviolette said the district is committed to conservative spending practices during the economic downturn.

“It was this teamwork that provided the leadership necessary to reopen schools safely for face to face instruction in September,” she said. “Other districts across the country are still trying to figure it out. One thing is certain. We really find out how strong we are when faced with adversity of this magnitude.”

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