Louisiana creates way to report school reopening concerns

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Posted at 3:13 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 17:56:09-04

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s education department has set up an email for parents, teachers and others to report violations of the state’s coronavirus safety standards for schools, Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley told the state’s top school board Tuesday.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in mid-July adopted statewide rules for schools holding in-person instruction amid the virus outbreak, such as a mask mandate for school staff and students in grades 3 through 12; distancing standards; temperature checks to enter school premises; and school bus capacity limits.

Brumley told the education board that anyone worried a school isn’t following the rules can email to register those concerns. The person will receive a survey to fill out, and the information is sent to the school system’s leaders to respond.

“We have received a few concerns already,” Brumley said.

The complaints reported to the education department are posted online. Complaints registered since July 29 involve mask-wearing, group sizes and cleaning plans, according to the education department’s list.

Two of the current five complaints involve schools/school systems in Acadiana. A complaint was made against the St. Mary Parish School System on July 30 concerning group sizes, cleaning and personal hygiene, face coverings, monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, and student programming determinations.

On August 3, a complaint was registered against Lafayette Christian Academy involving group sizes, physical standards for the use of school facilities, cleaning, face coverings, and hygienic supplies.

Find a full list of registered concerns as of August 11 HERE.

Brumley said the education department has little ability to force compliance with the guidelines.

But he also cautioned that schools that don’t follow the regulations risk losing legal protections recently enacted by lawmakers to shield schools from most civil lawsuits if a student or teacher contacts the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. The protections only are extended if schools are following the state’s regulations.

Louisiana schools have taken varied approaches as they reopen schools in the pandemic. Some are teaching classes entirely in person, others are teaching online in their opening weeks and others are using a hybrid model.

Louisiana’s health department says 4,195 state residents have died from COVID-19, a death toll that grew by 26 on Tuesday. The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases has been falling, but the state continues to have one of the nation’s highest per capita infection rates in recent weeks.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe or fatal illness.

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