LAFAYETTE, La. — Lessons learned from last year will help shape the school year this year at Lafayette Parish Schools. Superintendent Irma Trosclair says her teachers and staff are ready to welcome their students again.
Trosclair says, "They're excited that their students are coming back. They're ready to do the work." She tells KATC that the 2020 school year, and everything that came with it, has made it easier to prepare for this year. The first two days of school will operate on a hybrid schedule with odd numbered addresses going on Thursday, and even numbered addresses going back on Friday. Trosclair adds, "This helps us make sure kids are getting on the right bus. It helps us practice protocols." She also says this makes the start a little smoother for teachers and students.
Although hybrid and remote learning is fine, she says it's better to have the kids in front of a teacher. "There's no replacement for a good classroom teacher that's teaching you, guiding you, and monitoring your work." says Trosclair.
Even before the mask mandate and some push back from parents, LPSS was swaying toward making them mandatory. Trosclair says, "Any mitigation measure that we can put in place is best, regardless of how we feel on either side. I think it was the important thing to do, to keep our kids in front of their teachers for a long as possible this year."
Since masks are also required on the bus, they can operate at 100%. This will enable them to get back classroom instruction time they lost last year. "We weren't able to do the entire instructional day, but this year we're able to add our sixty minutes back that we desperately want back. And our teachers want it back as well."
Every year starts with some hiccups when it comes to busing. But there's an easy way for parents to get ready. Trosclair adding, "If you go to our website there's a link where you can put in your address and it will tell you your bus. There's also a phone number, 521-RIDE. This will connect you with the transportation department."
Better ways of keeping track of students will help, in case there's an outbreak. "We are requiring seating charts to be kept for every bus and every classroom. We're fortunate in Lafayette Parish to have an LPN or RN on school campuses across the district. They're able to do a lot of that work, and were tremendous last year in really helping to keep schools open by the contract tracing that they did."
As for the superintendent, what does she want for for students this year? "I want them to be safe and healthy of course, but I want them to receive a high quality education" As for parents? Trosclair says, "Although we have folks that have different opinions about different protocols, I respect that, I understand that. But as a system we have to remain focused on what gives our students the best chance for coming out of this pandemic and being on level academically for their future."
Trosclair also touched on how the school system is prepared, if needed to go hybrid or remote. But also stressed parents need to have a contingency plan in place for these changes. This isn't just for COVID, but for weather, and other emergency closures as well. Like preparing for a hurricane, having a plan in place makes it much smoother.