Jeff Davis superintendent: New-found focus on school safety

Published 9:23 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

With planning underway for the start of a new school year Jeff Davis Parish school leaders are continuing to focus on school safety.

“Every year is different depending on the previous school year and the happenings from last year,” Superintendent John Hall said. “For instance we definitely have a new found focus on school safety going into this year.”

During the summer face-to-face and online training has been available to all school employees, he said.

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Each local school system has met or will soon be meeting with local law enforcement to discuss school safety. Hall said. In addition, the School Board will be offering some district level training.

“We’ve probably never had a year where we have had this much training with so many people,” he said.

School safety programs are also being provided by Louisiana State University and the national “Run, Hide, Fight” program.

“It’s important that you have a plan that is fresh and that everybody knows about, that has been open to all the stakeholders, especially law enforcement, in knowing how to coordinate in case there was a school crisis,” he said.

However, school safety is not the only focus of the school district as students prepare to return to the classroom.

“When you start talking about priorities, school safety has to be the priority every year,” Hall said. “At the same time we are working to make sure students are engaged and tier curriculums are being taught and delivered appropriately.”

After two years of hurricane and COVID interruptions, Hall said the school district is looking forward to having students return to the classroom for face-to-face learning.

“We are looking forward to having a normal year with in-person learning and professional development for our teachers and getting back to normal,” he said. “There are so many parts to a school, of course the rigor in the classroom is important, but also the activities at the school, the extra curricular activities at the school, the clubs that they have…Just making sure that those students are engaged and have activities is important. It’s not just about getting the students in the classroom and teaching them the best you can. It is about providing a high school, middle school or elementary school experience for the student.”

Jeff Davis Parish schools will open their doors to the new school year on Friday, Aug. 12 with elementary students in Jennings heading to a new school that combines students from James Ward Elementary and the old Jennings Elementary School onto a single campus.

The district will show off the new school during open houses planned for August.

Principal David Harper has been coordinating the move and providing ongoing training for staff.

Volunteers from area churches helped move items from the old schools to this new location last weekend.

Sixteen 18-wheelers of furniture have also been delivered and computer and technology equipment will be moved in soon and internet service will be installed by the end of the month.