The first day of school for students in St. Mary Parish is Friday, August 6th. The superintendent wants parents to know everyone is ready to hit the ground running.
Dr. Teresa Bagwell says, "This summer was quite short because we ended the school year a little later than normal." The summer may have been short, but the teachers have been missing their students. Bagwell adding, "It's always an exciting time, that first day!"
Dr. Bagwell was really impressed on how the kids rolled with the punches during the last school year. She says, "Since September of last year, we managed through all of those extra hand washing protocols and six feet of distance. We did that already, so if it changes, we can adapt to that."
There are options for online learning, but it's an application process and will be on a case by case basis. Uniform policies have only changed slightly, and parents were notified of those changes weeks ago.
Kids already were required to wear masks on the bus, but now that Governor Edwards reinstated the mask mandate, all kids Kindergarten through twelfth grade will be required to mask up. Bagwell adding, "You should be masked if you are in an indoor setting where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained."
If there's an outbreak, or a teacher or student is exposed, there is a procedure. "When a student or staff member contracts COVID and tests positive, we'll determine who was within six feet of that person for over 15 minutes within the last 48 hours. We've actually employed our school cameras because often times the person doesn't remember exactly who they were around, especially a child."
The proper people will be notified and quarantine would go into place. But the length of quarantine time is dependent on the vaccination status and masking. Bagwell saying, "For those who are on the fence about masking, if a child or staff member is masked, and in front of another person who is masked, that changes the quarantine status as well. So if you want to keep your kids in school, masking is the way to do it!"
School meals will once again be free, regardless of income. Last year was the first for the whole district and the superintendent says all students will eat free again. And the parents don't need to do anything. There's no qualifications or registration, and no paperwork.
Dr. Bagwell says they're continuing some programs from last year that worked really well, saying, "Last year we instituted tutoring for our Kindergarten though second grade students because they had missed out on so much, and we're going to extend that to our third graders as well. We're trying to meet the individual needs of our kids given the setting they've been learning in over the past year and a half."
Overcoming the challenges and creating a normal environment is the goal. Bagwell saying, "I think we are ready to have a normal, uninterrupted, focused year on just what school is all about. Like enjoying the football games and all of the great stuff that goes with public education!"