The Louisiana Department of Education released guidance on Thursday, June 25 for how schools across the state can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.
The guidelines were released in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Resilient Louisiana Commission and include actions that schools can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
LDOE says that each school district will ultimately decide how schools will operate, but that guidance will offer best practices to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios: traditional, hybrid or distance/remote learning.
The guidance will also explain how health requirements will change based on the three reopening phases and what to expect and how to respond to COVID-19 positive or presumptive cases on campuses.
The "Strong Start 2020: Guidelines and Resources for School Reopenings" is available on the LDOE website and includes a number of guidelines and best practices for districts including:
- Bus capacity and student group size
- Student symptom monitoring
- Face coverings
- Food prep and meal service
Along with the resources released Thursday, LDOE says schools and districts will have access to additional support through webinars and a hotline.
The guidelines state that, given the current levels of COVID-19 in Louisiana, schools should plan for and expect that some students will get the virus during the school year.
Students who become sick are asked to remain home from school, while those who contract COVID-19 will be asked to remain home and isolate themselves until they have recovered.
Guidelines says that students who have come into close contact, less than six feet away and for more than 15 minutes, with a student with COVID-19 should stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days.
Schools who have identified staff or students with COVID-19 will need to plan for deep cleaning, ensure continuity of education for quarantined students and staff and prepare for a 3-5 day school closure.
The decision to close schools would be an individual, case-by-case process and ultimately made by school leadership, according to the guidelines.
Three key principles outlined in the guidance are for students to wash hands often, wear a face covering, and practice 6-feet of social distancing.
Adults and students in 3rd grade and up should wear a mask if able while in all areas of the school including classrooms and during arrival, dismissal and transitional periods. Those with severe breathing difficulties, according to LDOE, should not wear face coverings.
Scheduled hand washing will take place every two hours with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Guidance suggest hand washing also take take place after arrival, before and after eating, before and after using outdoor play equipment, at exits, and after changing classrooms.
Some standards for keeping staff and students safe include:
IMPLEMENT SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
School Facility Use Considerations
- Remove unused desks and furniture in classrooms to maximize physical distance and minimize objects that must be cleaned.
- Establish distance between the teacher’s desk/board and students’ desks.
- Identify and utilize large spaces (e.g., gymnasiums, auditoriums, outside spaces) to enable physical distancing in Phases 2 and 3.
- Teachers maintain social distancing guidelines and teach from one location in the classroom if possible. School Transition Considerations
- Provide additional time for transitions.
- Designate areas of the hallway (i.e., lanes) as flow paths to keep students separated and to minimize congregation of students.
- Plan staggered class changes (e.g., by hall, odd/even room numbers, grade/discipline) to decrease number of students in hallways at one time.
CHANGE STUDENT DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP PROCESSES TO LIMIT CONTACT
- Ask students to enter and exit in single-file lines to enable physical distance.
- Establish one or two entry and egress points that enable the flow of students to move in a single direction.
- Do not allow visitors in the school building except under extenuating circumstances; adults entering the building should wash or sanitize hands prior to entering.
- Establish hand hygiene stations at the entrance to the facility so students can clean their hands before they enter. If a sink with soap and water is not available, provide hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and supervise its use.
- Encourage families to drive their children to school if possible. This will reduce student numbers on buses. LARGE GATHERINGS AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
- Assemblies are limited to maximum group sizes and with appropriate physical distancing in place. For younger students unable to maintain physical distance, maintain static groups.
- All attendees should wear a face covering.
- Students and teachers should wash hands before and after events.
- Discontinue field trips as students may engage with vulnerable populations.
- Afterschool programs may continue but must adhere to maximum group sizes and physical distance protocols. For younger students unable to maintain physical distance, maintain static groups.
ATHLETICS, BAND AND VOCAL MUSIC
- Athletic activities are allowed to resume with the recommendations put forth in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Guidance.
- Band and vocal music may resume in Phase 3, with physical distance recommendations in effect.
See more in the guidance, below:
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