EBR students return to full-time, in-person classes
BATON ROUGE - On Monday morning, the last batch of East Baton Rouge Parish students who've grown used to spending school days in front of a laptop will return to in-person classes five days a week.
School officials are prepared for the return of 6-12 graders to campuses across the parish as Phase 3 of the reopening process continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the spread of novel coronavirus continuing to pose a threat, everyone on campus is required to wear a mask and school officials are encouraging students to wash their hands as much as possible in addition to practicing social distancing.
On Monday morning, WBRZ's Rae'ven Jackson spoke with an Dr. Viola Jackson, Principal of Capitol Middle School, who explained a few of the COVID-related procedures that have been implemented to keep students safe.
"We are very excited to see our students coming back face-to-face," Dr. Jackson told WBRZ.
She went on to explain that as school buses arrive on campus, students who exit the buses will have their temperatures checked. Those with temperatures over 100.1 degrees will be isolated and assessed by a school nurse while their parents are called. Their peers whose temperatures are within normal range will be escorted into the building by teachers and once inside, these students will sanitize their hands and proceed to their classrooms.
"We have procedures in place, we have sanitizing stations placed in various areas inside the classrooms. So, we know that our students will be safe," Dr. Jackson said. "We know that it's important for them to be safe. We will definitely reiterate the procedures and guidelines set forth by the CDC."
In addition to procedures such as those listed above, schools are working with families who don't feel comfortable sending their children to in-person classes just yet; virtual classes continue for students whose parents have qualms related to in-person learning.
School officials have expressed confidence in new COVID-related protocol and feel the return to face-to-face classroom instruction will be a positive change for Parish students.
“Through our continued conversations with the Health Advisory Committee, we are encouraged by the continued decline in COVID-19 cases. The declining trends, coupled with the governor’s announcement, indicates that a gradual return to in-person learning can be safe and successful for all,” former EBR Schools Superintendent Leslie M. Brown said in a September 11 news release.
“We have worked with our principals, administrators, medical experts and union leaders to determine the strongest and most effective transition strategy for our students, staff and families.”
Brown, who stepped down from her position in October due to health reasons, has since been replaced by interim Superintendent Adam Smith who has a similar vision for parish schools.
WBRZ's Rae'ven Jackson had the opportunity to speak with Interim Superintendent Smith on Monday and during their conversation Smith expressed his confidence in students and school faculty/staff as Phase 3 of the reopening continues.
Smith said, "Elementary has been back for two weeks, things have been going extremely well," and then commended elementary school officials for carrying out their responsibilities amid the reopening process so well.
While Smith acknowledged that some parents are still concerned about sending their children to a campus with other children during a health crisis, he also explained why parish education leaders are promoting the reopening.
"We know virtual learning is not the best for every child," Smith said. He went on to say that virtual learning often poses challenges for certain English Language Learner (ESL) students and for students with special needs.
This was one of the many reasons he and his colleagues opted on allowing students to return to in-person classes on a full-time basis, with the condition that campuses remain thoroughly sanitized and faculty teach students to follow all CDC COVID-related guidelines.
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