With a growing threat from coronavirus in Louisiana, both the East Baton Rouge and Iberville Parish school systems on Thursday announced they are suspending all travel domestically and internationally, including field trips, by students and employees.

The travel ban starts Monday. East Baton Rouge continues “until further notice,” while Iberville’s ends March 31. In both cases, the hope is to postpone rather than cancel outright any trips.

East Baton Rouge also announced it is canceling all school events, except high school athletics, that would bring onto campus individuals who are not in the “school family.” Normal daily school activities would continue as is.

Iberville is taking a more limited approach, canceling four specific events between March 16 and April 9.

Both school districts, however, have no plans to close at present, something two charter schools in New Orleans decided Wednesday and Thursday to do at least in the short term. The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, or LSMSA, a state-run boarding school in Natchitoches which draws high school students from across the state, decided to close up shop for two weeks and move to remote instruction.

Addressing reporters Thursday afternoon, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake said staying open is the decided preference of his top staff.

“Every one of us is in favor of keeping school open,” he said.

But he added that may change if “multiple cases” of coronavirus start showing in Baton Rouge schools. He also said his staff is still preparing options for if that happens and how the school district would continue instruction remotely and continue students services.

As far as high school sports, Drake said he’s monitoring action taken by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Middle school sporting events, however, are being canceled or postponed starting Monday, though teams can continue to practice, he said.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.