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Superintendent of Education addresses plans of reopening schools before Senate

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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's Senate Education Committee met with the superintendent of education and secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health to discuss the upcoming school year.

Just hours after the Department of Education issued guidance for all K-12 schools, Louisiana's Superintendent of Education, Cade Brumley, addressed plans of reopening schools before the Senate Thursday, June 25, following months of COVID-related closures.

Brumley has held the title of superintendent for just around one month. He spent the evening navigating lawmakers and the public through the department of education's guidelines for Louisiana's nearly 1,700 schools as they get ready for 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 than you would be to fully congregate in a traditional setting," Brumley said.

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

It's also suggested that adults and students, third grade and up, wear face coverings as much as possible. 

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

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

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," Brumley said.

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," State Senator Beth Mizell said.


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