The Calcasieu Parish School Board released its plans for the 2020-21 school year on Wednesday. The 15-page document outlines the district’s calendar and schedule, hygiene and safety protocols, transportation plans and more.
Students will have two options for education in August: a return to school on its normal calendar with “established face-to-face guidelines on masks, social distancing, sanitation and transportation” or a 100 percent virtual program “with (a) device provided by CPSB, specific teacher assigned and grades/ attendance monitored.”
No additional registration will be required for students attending face-to face beyond that which is normally required by policy in a regular school year. A separate registration, however, is required for families wishing to enroll in the virtual program.
“While these plans are the result of thoughts, prayers and many hours of work, we are positive that they aren’t perfect,” Karl Bruchhaus, superintendent, said in an opening letter regarding the plans. “COVID-19 has been one of the most unique events that our entire society has dealt with. Our education environment must be flexible enough to change as situations evolve related to the virus from hour to hour.”
Taking cues from the Louisiana Department of Education’s “Strong Start 2020” reopening guidelines, CPSB’s operations will fluctuate depending on what phase the state is in.
During phase one facilities will be closed to the public and school operations will be limited to an entirely virtual learning environment. School board employees, however, are classified as essential workers and “may be required to report to their assigned locations,” the document states.
Phase two and three will allow schools to open for all students Monday through Friday while implementing expert and governmental health guidance. Virtual options will remain available to families who do not wish for their students to attend face-to-face.
In such phases, class sizes will be limited to static (non-changing) groups in elementary school and 21 students in middle and high school. Face coverings will be required during arrival, transitions, dismissal and while on a school bus.
“Students in grades 3-12 may be required to wear a face covering during instructional time as directed by school and district protocols,” the document states.
According to the guidelines, CPSB will provide two washable face covering for every student and employee.
During phase two, school buses will operate at 50 percent capacity to adhere to social distancing protocols. During phase three they will operate at 75 percent capacity.
Masks, hand sanitizing, open windows and increased bus sanitization will be implemented. “CPSB strongly encourages families to drop off their students(s) and pick them up from school to the maximum extent possible,” the guidelines read.
Coronavirus-related operations also include social distancing, daily temperature checks, amended cafeteria operations and “enhanced safety protocols” like plexiglass, increased hand washing/sanitizing and intensified campus cleaning and disinfection. Physical education uniforms will not be required for middle and high school students this year.
State superintendent Cade Brumley applauded CPSB for its plans. “I appreciate Calcasieu parish schools taking a bold approach to ensuring all students have options for meaningful learning in safe environments. Education through a pandemic will be challenging but Calcasieu’s plan provides a strong framework to enter the year,” Brumley said.
Further insight regarding CPSB’s plans will be provided through a “Q & A Session with Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus” video that will be released online Monday, July 13, Holly Holland, spokeswoman for the district, said.