Ascension Public Schools releases 2021-22 COVID-19 guidelines, masks optional

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Ascension Public Schools

ASCENSION PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) – Ascension Public Schools released 2021-22 COVID-19 guidelines as the new school year approaches.

In a statement, Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent David Alexander addresses parents and staff:

“We acknowledge that the presence of the COVID-19 virus continues to exist in the community, therefore we expect that COVID-19 cases will be brought to school and the workplace from time to time during the school year. However, we believe, that compliance with these expectations, practices, and guidelines will properly prevent an infectious spread from occurring.”

COVID-19 guidelines for Ascension Public Schools:

CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASE RESPONSE:  Ascension Public Schools will continue to notify parents, students, and staff when a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 is present at school or a school-related activity. Schools will continue to work to identify close contacts to any confirmed positive case so that close contacts can be properly notified and provided information for the appropriate response. Schools will continue to isolate students that develop symptoms during the school day until their parents can pick them up. 

ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING: Ascension Public Schools will continue its efforts toward daily cleaning and disinfecting. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned prior to the school day and at least at mid-day.  Restrooms and other common areas (corridors, lobbies, libraries, meeting rooms, etc.) will be cleaned prior to the school day and at least at mid-day. Drinking fountains will remain closed but bottle filling stations are available at all schools. Students and employees are to be encouraged to bring personal water bottles for refilling. 

FACE COVERINGS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY (INDOORS OR OUTDOORS): Face coverings are optional for all PreK through 12 students and employees except while traveling on a bus. Ascension Public Schools encourages all students (parents/guardians), employees, and others to consult with their personal physicians or health care providers for further guidance on the necessity of a face covering as it pertains to their individual condition and health care needs.  

GROUP SIZES: Maximum group sizes are no longer prescribed but an effort to remain attentive to distancing to the greatest extent possible should be pursued for both classrooms and large spaces. Schools will consider operating in static groups in lower grades when able to do so. Adults will work to maintain distance to the greatest extent possible when working with students within the context of effective instructional practices. Schools will be able to utilize large spaces such as cafeterias and gyms without the necessity of barriers or dividers between individual groups.  

MONITORING AND SCREENING FOR COVID-19 SYMPTOMS: Schools will no longer be required to screen students at the beginning of each school day. It is important that all students and staff properly monitor their own symptoms and conduct proper screenings prior to attending school or work for the safety of themselves and others. No student or staff member should attend school or work when experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or experiencing a fever even without having other symptoms.

OUTDOOR AND INDOOR SPECTATOR PROTOCOLS: Capacity guidance for school-related events and spectator capacity for athletic events will be found on the Louisiana State Fire Marshal website, opensafely.la.gov.

PHYSICAL STANDARDS: Schools will continue to establish controlled routines for entrance, exit, and class exchanges to maximize distancing to the greatest extent possible during student transitional routines during the school day. 

PERSONAL HYGIENE: Students and employees will continue to have access to hand washing stations and hand sanitizer throughout the day. Students and employees will be encouraged to utilize hand sanitation resources when entering the school, exchanging classes, before and after eating, and other times throughout the day as would be appropriate. 

TRANSPORTATION: As specified in the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) 2021-22 Operational GuidelinesALL passengers on a school bus MUST wear a facial covering while using transportation, regardless of the capacity on the bus per Presidential Executive Order No. 13998 for Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. Frequently touched surfaces will be wiped between each group using a disinfectant. The bus will be sanitized with a disinfectant between the morning and afternoon routes. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available on each bus. Windows shall be kept open when it does not create a safety or health hazard. Seating charts will be kept and consistently enforced. 

VISITORS:  Schools will continue to limit visitors during the school day. Each level (Primary, Middle, and High School) will determine the necessity of outside visitors based on value for community relations, funding sources, educational enhancement, and other similar benefits to outline protocols for visitors. 

VOCAL MUSIC, BAND, AND ATHLETICS: Band and vocal music will follow the National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Association for Music Education Guidance.  Athletics in high school and middle school will follow requirements as provided by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA).

For more information about guidelines, click here.

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