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Dept. of Education releases guidelines for the 2020-2021 reopening of K-12 schools

3 years 10 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, June 25 2020 Jun 25, 2020 June 25, 2020 6:37 PM June 25, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Education released guidance pertaining to the reopening of K-12 schools across the state, Thursday morning. The guidance is in harmony with principles suggested by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Resilient Louisiana Commission.

While each district will ultimately decide how schools will operate, the guidelines offer best practices that encourage districts to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios: traditional, hybrid or distance/remote learning. In addition, they explain how health requirements will change based on the three reopening phases. The resource offers an outline for what to expect and how to respond to a COVID-19 positive or presumptive positive case on campus.

Entitled, "Strong Start 2020: Guidelines and Resources for School Reopening," the strategy for reopening includes best practices as they relate to: 

-Bus capacity and student group size

-Student symptom monitoring

-Face coverings

-Food prep and meal service

Along with the resources released in the guideline mentioned above, schools and districts will have access to additional support through webinars and via a hotline.

The LDOE is also partnering with Children's Hospital New Orleans to sponsor the hotline as well as regular town hall webinars for educators. The hotline will be staffed by skilled nurses who can advise school staff on medical questions about students and team members related to COVID-19. School nurses and other school administrators can call 504-837-7760 weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

In the town hall webinars, experts will discuss topics like COVID-19 transmission basics, preventative measures and sanitation best practices, and additional tips for guideline implementation. There will also be an opportunity for open Q&A.

These will be offered every two weeks starting in July. While the hotline and town hall webinars are for education professionals, Children's Hospital New Orleans currently offers online COVID-19 resources for families and is developing additional family supports. 

Click here to view the full list of guidelines for Louisiana schools. 

On Thursday evening, Louisiana's Superintendent of Education, Cade Brumley, addressed plans of reopening schools before the Senate.

Just one month on the job, Brumley spent the evening navigating lawmakers and the public through the department of education's suggestions for Louisiana's 1,600 plus schools heading into August.

He says that schools should prepare for three scenarios: traditional classroom learning, virtual, or a hybrid of the two.

"We are asking systems to plan for those multiple contingencies. We're asking them to submit those plans back to us. And we also know that you could have a toggle back and forth between those setups. I think that if you're in phase two, for instance, when the school year begins, you're more likely to be on that hybrid model then you would be fully congregate in a traditional setting."

The guidance released Thursday says that classroom learning should include smaller group settings and social distancing.

It's also suggested that adults and students, third grade and up, wear masks to the maximum extent possible. 

Brumley acknowledges the struggles that will come with that, noting that its up to individual school systems to decide how they want to enforce these guidelines.

"They will then have to make decision on how do they put this into place. And look, I'm a former school principal, I know its hard to keep a students shirttail tucked in. Much less a mask. And I think system will almost have to treat this like a part of uniform if they decide to go with these guidelines."

Another concern among parents is transportation. With fewer kids allowed on the bus in all phases of reopening, Brumley says they're encouraging parents to drop their kids off, but he knows that's not possible for everyone.

"We are working with system leaders to help them understand these recommendations so that they can begin planning the logistics of their routes. We know that it will be a challenge."

Members of the senate education committee suggesting to Brumley that the department of education keep a close eye on schools and how they adhere to the guidance, saying that suggestions alone are not enough.

"All the paperwork in the world is one thing, but as my colleague said the implementation is going to be the challenge. And you want to do that in a supportive way."

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