Zachary High School is sending all of its students home to learn virtually because of recent coronavirus cases and won’t be reopening for in-person instruction until after the Thanksgiving break, according to a message sent to parents Tuesday afternoon.

The shutdown starts Wednesday and will continue through Friday, Nov. 20. Students are scheduled to be off for Thanksgiving Break in the week of Nov. 23-27.  

“All students will log into their classes, following their regular schedule, through Moodle,” according to the text message, referring to the online educational platform Zachary uses. “All teachers will communicate directly with their students. Thank you, ZCSD.”

Superintendent Scott Devillier said school officials made the call "based on the number of students being quarantined," but would not say how many students at the high school were quarantining -- or how many students and staff tested positive.

Devillier said the high school will continue to undergo "extensive deep cleanings" and students are being encouraged to follow safety guidelines even at home.

The shutdown of the high school, home to more than 1,500 students, is perhaps the most significant move made by a Baton Rouge-area school this school year to deal with the deadly virus.

An early sign of trouble emerged Monday night when Scotlandville High's head football coach Lester Ricard tweeted that he'd learned a few hours earlier that a Zachary High football player had tested positive for COVID-19. Since the two teams played other Saturday night, less than two days prior, and this player came into contact with players of the opposing team, Scotlandville players will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

"This is really difficult to swallow because things could have been different!!!" Ricard wrote.

Zachary schools had previously delayed the start of the school year in August due to concerns about the virus. When the suburban Baton Rouge school district began in-person instruction, about half of its students remained online.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,307 more coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths statewide in its daily update Tuesday. East Baton Rouge Parish has seen 16,467 cases of the coronavirus so far, and 459 people have died. 

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