East Baton Rouge Parish School superintendent provides statement on status of upcoming academic year

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Warren Drake put out a message to EBRPSS families regarding the status of the upcoming school year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Drake outlined two possible plans for this coming semester if the state remains in Phase 2 of reopening by Thursday, Aug. 6.

The first option holds that students will learn in a completely virtual format starting on Aug. 6. Then, if government policies permit it, families can choose to continue using the virtual format or allow their children to return to school on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Schools would use a hybrid model following local and state guidance.

The second option is that, if government policies permit it, students will return to school on Aug. 6 under a hybrid model, in which students will physically go to school two days a week and have predetermined daily schedules. Children will learn virtually under the supervision of their teachers during the days they’re not in a classroom.

The following is Drake’s full message:

As we near the midpoint of our summer break, I want to reach out to all of you with a district update.  First and foremost, I’d like to welcome Ms. Leslie Brown who will replace me on August 1, 2020, as Superintendent of Schools. I hope that all of you will welcome her just as you did with me five years ago. I have shared with her how fortunate we are as a district to have such a diverse, dedicated, and talented team serving our students. Ms. Brown and I have been in regular communication over the past few weeks. We share an unwavering commitment to a smooth transition to ensure the best teaching and learning environments for August 2020 and beyond.

As you know, the decisions before us cannot be made lightly. None of us can predict the future. In the here and now, we must factor in local, state, and federal regulations and guidance as we make the best determinations to guide our entry into the upcoming school year.  We share all of your concerns about the return to schools, and we recognize that there is not a perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. District staff is monitoring the COVID-19 data and related guidance from within our city, our state, and across the country. Locally, our numbers continue to increase, and it is predicted by some that a spike in positive cases will occur after the July 4th holiday. Regardless, we must find a way to move forward to meet the needs of our students, our employees, and the community we serve. I know many of you are anxious for a comprehensive and inclusive plan for August, but in my opinion, it is too early to commit to a definite scenario today.

Given the information currently available and if we remain under Phase II on August 6th, here is a snapshot of the two most likely models presently in development:

Option 1 – Students will begin school on August 6th in a 100% virtual learning environment. If governmental phases allow for it, on Wednesday, September 9, families will have a choice between continuing to learn virtually OR returning to school through a hybrid model permitting local and state guidance.

Option 2 – If governmental phases allow for it, students will begin school on August 6th under a hybrid model. Within this model, students will attend school two days a week according to pre-determined daily schedules. During the remaining three days of the week, students will learn virtually under the supervision of their classroom teachers. This model will afford us the ability to have 50% capacity or under on our campuses and buses at one time. This model will also allow time for cleaning and sanitation. Within this model, all students will have the option to select a 100% virtual learning experience if it is preferred.

In each of these models and throughout our decision-making process, the health and safety of our students, staff, and their families remain our top priority. Physical distancing, group size, and personal protective equipment will be addressed in each and every decision. In order to do this, additional data is needed to finalize the remaining details of the operational plan. To help us with this, please take the time to complete our latest survey, so that we may have the most accurate data as possible when we release a detailed plan next week. https://forms.gle/5kf82BP2jYD4YwKX9

In closing, I wish each of you a happy, safe, and restful month of July. Each of you, your families, and our students are ever-present in my thoughts and prayers. The past five years prove that the East Baton Rouge Parish School System is a resilient team, one that I will forever be proud to have served. I know your strength, positivity, and determination will continue to shine in the future. We look forward to a great school year ahead.

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