Lafayette Parish schools students are getting an extended spring break this year, one that began Friday and will continue until they return to classes on Feb. 23.

Teachers return to work on Thursday for a districtwide mandatory training day. That’s followed up with more training the next day at each school campus.

Teachers have the option to select what courses they’d like to take during the districtwide training. Options include more specialized miniconferences for English language arts and English-as-a second-language teachers and on special education issues.

High school teachers, administrators and counselors are required to attend a college and career readiness conference focused on issues such as teaching to the millenial generation.

The school-site trainings planned Feb. 20 are specific to schools’ needs, Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau said.

“The district provides structured in-services, and because each school is its own organism, schools will provide what they need to their campuses,” Billeaudeau said. “They should be reviewing data. They’ll be reviewing best practices, possibly looking at preparations for any review for PARCC.”

Schools recently received students’ scores from winter assessments, and that data likely will be reviewed during school-site trainings, said Karen Williams, director of academics.

“We benchmark kids three times a year, and we just got our winter scores into the system, so a lot of schools will be pulling that information,” Williams said.

The data is used to make midcourse corrections and to determine the instructional needs of students, Billeaudeau said.

Students were out of school on Friday for parent-teacher conferences. Schools also will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as most of Acadiana observes Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.

This is the first year that students are out for a week around the Mardi Gras break. The mandatory teacher trainings were timed during the break because absenteeism historically has been high for the remainder of the Mardi Gras week, Williams said.

Williams said staff will re-evaluate the training schedule for next year.

While schools are closed, the central office will open for business on Wednesday and the School Board also will meet for its second meeting of the month that day at 5:30 p.m.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.