LPPS officials ‘currently anticipating’ beginning school year in Phase Two


LIVINGSTON, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – Officials from the Livingston Parish Public Schools system are “currently anticipating” beginning the 2020-21 school year in Phase Two of its reopening plan, according to a statement from Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Phase Two of the “LPPS Start Strong” plan features a mixture of distance and in-person instruction, dependent on the grade level of the student.

The school year is currently set to start on Friday, Aug. 7.

“LPPS is currently anticipating opening our schools in phase 2 of recovery,” Murphy said in a statement sent out Wednesday afternoon. “As such Livingston Parish Public schools will follow the phase 2 reopening plans which were released to the public last Thursday.”

The latest announcement comes one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards said he was extending his current order keeping Louisiana in Phase Two of its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governor cited a continued surge in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that made him hesitant to move the state into Phase Three of reopening.

This is the second time Edwards has extended Phase Two, following a four-week extension last month. Phase Two will now expire on Friday, Aug. 7, unless it is extended again. Edwards, who also issued a statewide mask mandate last week, said he intends to sign the newest order on Thursday.

Edwards’ decision has put school districts in a tough spot, with his newest order set to expire the same week — and in some cases, as in Livingston Parish, the same day — that most schools start the upcoming school year.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has left it up to individual districts to decide what reopening plan works best for their communities, though state leaders have urged school systems that offer in-person instruction to mandate masks and social distancing practices.

This week, school districts in Baton Rouge and New Orleans announced decisions to postpone all in-person instruction until at least September.

For the Livingston Parish community, Phase Two means a mixture of virtual and on-campus learning.

Students in grades Pre-K-2 students, students with significant disabilities participating in alternate assessment, and students attending the ELEC Center will report to class for in-person instruction five days a week.

Students in grades 3-12 will return to school on an assigned schedule and learn through a mix of in-person and distance instruction.

Under Phase Two — when only half of the school system’s students would be allowed on campus at a time — the district will implement an A/B model to provide in-person instruction to half of the parish’s students in grades 3-12 on alternating days.

In this phase, Group A would attend school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday, while Group B would attend on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday.

Students in grades 3-12 will be notified by their school regarding the A/B schedule by July 31, Murphy said last week.

On days that students are not physically on campus, teachers will provide online assignments to be completed using a digital platform, or students will join the live class remotely. Instruction will be a combination of synchronous learning (teacher-led) and asynchronous learning (self-paced).

Other requirements under Phase Two would include:

— Students will be required to complete assignments online using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms on those days they are not on campus.

— Parents will be encouraged to drive their children to and from school as possible. Buses will run with no more than 50-percent capacity (36 students per bus), and riders will be required to wear masks and to sanitize their hands upon entering.

— No more than 25 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.

— Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees on campuses would be required to wear masks.

— Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.

— Students will not dress out for physical education. Locker rooms will be closed.

— Students will refrain from contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music. Some fall sports and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.

— All students will be offered breakfast upon entering their school campuses. Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas. Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 25 students, and they will eat in designated areas. Students enrolled in virtual learning, or who are receiving instruction through distance learning that day, will be offered “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up. The students must be in the cars to receive the meals.

If the state were to move backward into Phase One, the school system will provide distance learning opportunities for all students in grades Pre-K-12, with the exception of a small group of students on an as-needed basis. This will be done using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms as well as live virtual instruction.

School would return to its most traditional format under Phase Three, when all students in the district would receive face-to-face instruction five days a week.

In addition, the school system has posted online answers to frequently asked questions about its new plan.

Below is the entire statement from Murphy released on Wednesday:

“Yesterday Governor Edwards extended the phase 2 order until Friday, Aug. 7. Students are scheduled to return to our campuses on Aug. 7. Therefore, LPPS is currently anticipating opening our schools in phase 2 of recovery. As such Livingston Parish Public schools will follow the phase 2 reopening plans which were released to the public last Thursday. Those phased plans along with additional information regarding enhanced cleaning, physical distancing, student screening, virtual learning options and a live FAQ document which will [be] updated daily, by visiting www.lpsb.org and clicking on the LPPS Strong Start Reopening Plan.”

David Gray | The News

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