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Zachary school leaders say safety is priority as students return to classrooms

10 months 2 weeks 5 days ago Monday, August 09 2021 Aug 9, 2021 August 09, 2021 7:44 AM August 09, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

ZACHARY - As of Monday, the first day of the 2021-2022 school year has started for a number of schools in the WBRZ viewing area. 

In the early morning hours, students file onto campuses across Pointe Coupee Parish, Baker, Zachary, and the Feliciana Parishes, eager to crack open new notebooks and catch up with friends. 

While the youngsters get settled, teachers and staff keep a cautious eye on their students, ensuring that COVID-related safety precautions are followed. 

WBRZ's Dana DiPiazza is live at Rollins Place Elementary in Zachary to speak with school officials and find out exactly what measures the school is taking to keep everyone on campus COVID-safe.

Safety Measures

Masks - First and foremost, Zachary Schools are complying with Governor John Bel Edwards' reinstated mask mandate, which went into effect Wednesday, August 4, and continues until Wednesday, September 1. 

All students, K-12, will be masked, according to Zachary school leaders. This is a slight change from last semester when younger students were not required to don masks. Students will also be provided with lanyards that clip onto masks. When the children take their masks off to eat or drink, the lanyards will remain around their neck, helping to remind them that when they're finished eating, they need to put their masks back on. 

Desk Dividers - First and second grader's desks will be fitted with dividers that keep them separated from each other. 

Grouping Systems - In other classrooms where the dividers aren't used, grouping systems will be utilized to keep students with small groups who they sit with in class and eat with at lunchtime and play with at recess, in a pod-like system. Each group will be divided from the other as a means of limiting potential COVID exposure. 

Water Fountains Locked - Water fountains will not be accessible and students will be provided with their own water bottles instead. To keep students safe, water fountains will be equipped with locks (pictured below).


On-site Rapid Testing - Should any students show COVID symptoms, parents will be called first and asked for permission to perform a COVID test on the child while they're on campus. 

The novel coronavirus pandemic is an ever-shifting journey and school officials recognize that as the health crisis continues to evolve, schools need to be ready to adapt.

Superintendent Scott Devillier said, "In our line of work we have to be ready for anything that comes our way, and I think we are prepared. We have, as we said, Plan B, C, D, and it seems like every alphabet."

He continued, "The issue is that we have to get school open, we have to get the kids in here, and we have to make sure we take every precaution to keep the kids safe. That's the number one thing. But number two is they have to be educated and the best way to do that is to have them in front of a teacher." 

As students return to in-person classroom instruction, COVID does not dictate the theme of Monday's start to a new school year. At Rollins Place Elementary, the mindset is a positive one, shaped by the Back-to-School day theme, "Let's Have a Gold Medal Year."

This confident outlook was reflected in the colorful decorations teachers used to brighten their classrooms and in the positive messages reiterated throughout the campus. 

Click here to view tweets from parents of students embarking on their first week of the 2021-2022 school year, via the hashtag #Back2SchoolWBRZ.

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