In St. Landry Parish, the return to the classroom is staggered, depending on even or odd home addresses.
Thursday and Friday this week are the first days back for in-class students. There are about 300 students who have chosen virtual schooling, an option made available for grades 6-12.
Even ahead of the governor's mandate, Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said he'd make masks mandatory this school year on campuses in St. Landry Parish.
"I believe that having a mask is one way of keeping them safe. We're also looking at other ways of keeping them safe. Of course we want to encourage vaccination," says Jenkins.
The school board has partnered with local healthcare organizations to host vaccination clinics in schools for students over 12 years old who have parental consent.
"We want to at least provide that opportunity on site. Transportation or other variables can be a barrier, so we want to be able to eliminate as many barriers as possible," says Jenkins
State and nationwide, student test scores were lower than usual after months of virtual learning. Jenkins says, there's a plan to bounce back.
"We've built time in our schedule to address some learning loss for our students. our teachers and principals are working on identifying kids that may have struggled last year so they can provide extra time before or after school. We've invested our extra money into after school tutoring for all of our students," he says, adding that students are familiar with the challenges they may face this year. They are more ready than ever to take them on.
"Our theme for this year will be rebuilding, refocusing and reconnecting and I think by being able to build on those themes, working on connections, working to connect with each other, I think we can lift eachother up," says Jenkins.