School leaders from Port Arthur, Nederland & PNG talk impact of campus closure order

Published 3:07 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a news conference Friday that all school campuses will remain closed through the 2019-2020 academic year.

Lessons will continue via online and homebound programs, with more information regarding grade promotion, graduation and prom currently under discussion with the Texas Education Agency.


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Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Mark Porterie said he is pleased with the governor’s decision to close schools for the remainder of the year.

“I feel it was the best decision for the state,” he said. “The message from the district is that PAISD is closed, but instruction will continue. Our curriculum department has placed a great deal of online materials for students to complete with assistance from teachers, curriculum specialists and others.”

Porterie said he wants to emphasize that although the doors are closed, learning will continue to take place.

“It is imperative that our 2020 seniors understand that they will have to complete all local requirements in order to graduate,” he said. “Due to the announcement we will strengthen our online learning and work with each individual student to ensure success.”

Prom is officially cancelled for PAISD.

District officials are discussing the possibility of senior recognition in the future and will lean on the University Interscholastic League for direction regarding sports.

More information will become available in the future addressing summer courses and the 2020-2021 school year.


Port Neches-Groves ISD Superintendent Mike Gonzales said he is still trying to process all the information.

“I am trying to digest everything’s that’s been shared with us,” he said. “Gov. Abbott has made the difficult decision to keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year. The plan to gradually and safely re-open the great state of Texas will include measures to minimize the threat and resurgence in COVID-19.”

Gonzales said district officials are taking several measures into consideration, including decisions on prom and graduation.

At this time, parents and students are asked to continue to monitor the district website and social media sites for updated information on postponed and suspended events.

“I will continue to pray for the students, staff and community of PNGISD,” Gonzales said. “I believe that together we will overcome the impact and effects of COVID-19.”

All district and campus administrators are be available to address questions and concerns, Gonzales said.


Nederland ISD Assistant Superintendent Mike Laird said instructional guidance for students will still go on through May 28 for the district.

“There is a lot of planning for us, a lot of decisions have be made before we bring teachers in to close up classrooms, if we get to have summer school and all the other summer programs we have for our kids,” he said. “A lot of it is up in the air, and we are waiting on more direction from TEA.”

Laird said the campus closing announcement comes as a particular disappoint to the school’s graduating class.

“It’s the end of the athletic season, programs in theater, choir, art showings and all of the hard work kids go through to get ready for college,” he said. “The main thing for all of us, staff and students, is safety. That’s what the governor has to balance out for everyone.”

In a released statement from the Texas Education Agency following the governor’s executive order, the academic entity states its full support of the decision.

“We remain firmly committed to the health and safety of our students, families and communities,” he said. “Together, we will get through this and when the time is right, we will be able to return to our daily routines on school campuses across Texas.”


Tekoa Academy of Accelerated Studies CEO Paula Richardson said she stands beside Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to cancel school for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

“It lets me know that the governor is being very precautionary, even more so with our children,” she said. “Our staff and parents, we are all interactive with each other so I think it’s wise decision.

“Even if the governor had decided to open schools, we were going to draft a waiver to postpone. So it was a decision that all of us accepted.”

Richardson said students will continue virtual learning outside of the classroom, but will look to further guidance from state and local officials.

“The next six weeks we have left, we are going to do some things we’ve never done, but we want to use this opportunity to get better, use technology better and move forward,” she said. “Right now, we can’t leave our homes but we can go anywhere virtually so we need to use what we have and not complain.

“The take away from all this is to remember what it was like to not be around people that we love and then pray and hold them tighter when we can. We hope, in someway, that this will all makes us better.”

Richardson said a decision will be made on graduation later in the month.

“We will have a graduation and it will be appropriate and distant,” she said. “We will make it happen one way or another it just may be uniquely different. Right now is a time to be creative and think outside the box.”


All Bob Hope schools will follow the executive order to close all campuses, effective immediately.

A Bob Hope correspondent said the health and safety of students and staff is a priority.

“We ask everyone in our community to do your part to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Though our campuses will remain closed, we will continue with our flexible education program until the end of this school year.

“We remain dedicated to the education and success of our students. We thank our parents and teachers who continue to support our students with their distance learning.”

Updates will continue through the districts mass communication system, districts website and social media programs.