The CPSB Announces Its Plans For The New School Year
By Karla Wall
The new school year is scheduled to begin next month. But what the new school year will look like in Calcasieu schools was very unclear until July 8, when the Calcasieu Parish School Board announced its reopening plans.
In late June, the La. Dept. of Education released guidelines for reopening schools but made it very clear that school districts would have the final say in the matter. And with the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the decision to bring students back to school has not be an easy or quick one for school officials.
Parents have a choice: send their children back into the classroom Monday through Friday with enahanced safety measures in place or have them learn virtually through the CPSB’s Connected Classrooms program.
Here’s what the in-person attendance plan entails while under phase 2 reopening. There will be school guidelines for social distancing, masks and transportation. Those guidelines are based on information from the La. Dept. of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and the Governor’s Office.
Buses will run at 50-percent capacity, and bus drivers will be required to wear face coverings. Students will be required to use hand sanitizer upon boarding the bus. Bus windows will be open to facilitate air flow, and buses will be sanitized after each trip. Expect route times to be increased. The school system urges parents to drop their kids off at school and pick them up.
School meals will be different, as well. Breakfast will be served to students when they enter the school, and will be eaten in the classroom, cafeteria or other area of the school, to be determined by the principal of each school.
Lunch will be eaten according to a new schedule formulated by each school’s principal and staggered so that students enter the cafeteria in groups of 25 or less. Students will pick up meals and sit with their class, maintaining social distancing. Meals will be served in disposable containers, and only one meal option will be offered. Cafeteria workers will be required to wear face coverings.
Physical education locker rooms will be closed. As athletic programs will be open, athletic locker rooms will be open with social distancing and safety practices mandated. No PE uniforms will be required for middle and high school students this year.
Cleaning protocols will include enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, handles and fixtures several times daily. Restrooms will be also be monitored and cleaned more often than normal. Water fountains will be sanitized hourly, but students are encouraged to bring bottled water.
Students will wash hands or use a sanitizer with a 60-percent or more alcohol content. They will use hand sanitizer every two hours, before and after eating, and when exiting the school. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in high-traffic areas such as the school office and teacher workspaces.
Face masks will be required for all school employees when they are interacting with students or the public. Students will be required to wear masks when they arrive, while changing classes, when school is dismissed and while they’re on the bus. Students may be required to wear face coverings while in the classroom. For middle and high school students, masks must be in a solid color and can bear the school logo. For elementary students, the mask does not have to be a solid color but must not be distracting and must be appropriate as determined by school administrators.
Parents are urged to screen students for symptoms before they enter the school to ensure they do not show symptoms of COVID-19 infection: fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea or nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc. Student who begin to exhibit symptoms while at school will be isolated and supervised while waiting for a parent to pick them up. Parents should report to school principals if their child or anyone their child has been in contact with tests positive for COVID-19.
Employees will be screened daily and will be required to report contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
The school system will contact parents if there is a positive case in their child’s classroom.
This should be old hat by now, with students and parents having gone through a solid two months of virtual learning at the end of the last school year. And this year, the virtual option won’t differ much.
Students will be required to log on through CPSB Blackboard, Odysseyware and other virtual learning programs to complete assignments. Attendance and completion records will be kept.
Virtual learning students will be able to get “grab and go” breakfast and lunch from the school by driving through at times and places to be determined by the school. Students must be in the vehicle to get meals. If they are not in the vehicle, the parent must sign a waiver saying the meal is for the student.
Parents and other visitors are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the school. Visitors may be screened for fever and other symptoms when entering the school.
The complete guidelines are online at cpsb.org.