State school board to vote on statewide COVID-19 safety policies for classes to resume

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 7:19 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will vote Tuesday, July 14 on a plan that aims to keep children safe and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus during the 2020-2021 school year.

New state superintendent Cade Brumley presented the proposal to lawmakers Monday, July 13. Schools will have to follow the rules in order to re-open, though the logistics of compliance are mostly left up to the local school districts to sort out. For example, buses would be limited to 50 percent capacity if classes began today. Some school districts might choose to double-up bus routes to comply with that rule, or stagger their schedules so students require transportation at different times.

Louisiana is currently in Phase Two of the White House’s plan to re-open the nation’s economy. The proposed rules would relax as Louisiana enters Phase Three. No more than 25 people could be inside a schoolroom at one time under the current phase. Those 25 people would still have to be spread apart to ensure 6-foot social distancing rules.

“We’re trying to follow the experts on the virus, in terms of what the virus looks like and what it could look like in our schools and how to best mitigate its spread,” Brumley said. “We’re all working together as a team to serve children.”

Staff, visitors, and students above third grade would be required to wear a face-covering with few exceptions. School workers would check each student’s temperature after he or she got off the bus, and students would wash their hands at least every two hours. Younger children who do not wear masks will be kept in small pods, surrounded by the same group of children for the entire day.

Brumley noted that the rules will likely force some school districts to expand online learning and re-think their bell schedules. Some students in some districts may not leave their homerooms.

“It will be quite a monumental task and this will be a year unlike any other, but I believe in us,” Brumley said.

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