Back to School: CENLA Athletes excited for Senior year despite COVID changes

Local athletes ready for school after Louisiana Board of Education creates guidelines for reopening
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 10:58 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) -The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved minimum statewide health and safety standards last week for the reopening of K-12 schools in the 2020-2021 school year, and local athletes are ready for their senior year.

“It’s my senior year, so naturally you want to have and enjoy your last year,” Many running back, Terrence Williams said. “It’s just different because we are in a different circumstance, but that doesn’t change my excitement,” he added.

“I’m ready for it (2020-2021 academic year) honestly,” Alexandria Senior High volleyball player, Macey Byrd said. “I just hope it’s not like last year’s seniors who didn’t get to experience prom or a real graduation,” she added.

The complete set of standards is available for public viewing online. Here are specific requirements within the policy are defined according to the state’s current reopening phase:

  • Group sizes: The maximum group size that may convene indoors in a single room or outdoors at any time are 10 individuals (phase 1), 25 individuals (phase 2), and 50 individuals (phase 3).
  • Group composition: Younger students unable to wear face coverings or maintain physical distancing should be assigned static groups, which must include at minimum, students in grade 2 or lower. The composition of a group may change if students are able to maintain physical distancing. Students with disabilities must continue to receive special education services in the least restrictive environment possible.
  • Physical standards for use of school facilities: Groups that convene indoors must do so in a room enclosed by a wall or partition. If groups convene outdoors, each group must remain separated. Schools must limit crowding at entry and exit points to the greatest extent possible. Maximum group sizes and physical distance recommendations must be maintained. High-touch surfaces in rooms used by multiple groups must be cleaned before and after use by each group.
  • COVID-19 symptoms monitoring: Upon arriving at the school facility, each student and adult must be assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC, to include an initial temperature check. Each school must establish an isolation area for anyone showing signs of being sick, which must be cleaned after being occupied by a sick individual.
  • Face coverings: While inside the school facility, all adults and students in grades 3 through 12 must wear a face covering to the greatest extent possible and practical within the local community context. Students in grades pre-K through 2 may wear a face covering. Children under age 2 and individuals with breathing difficulties should not wear a face covering.
  • Facility cleaning: High-touch surfaces must be cleaned multiple times a day, including bathrooms.
  • Personal hygiene: Students must wash or sanitize hands upon arrival at the school, at least every two hours, before and after eating or using outdoor play equipment, and before exiting the school facility.
  • Hygienic supplies: School employees must be provided adequate access to supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, paper towels, tissues, and face coverings when needed. Appropriate quantities are to be provided according to the role, number, and age of students served by the employee.
  • Student transportation: Buses must not exceed 25 percent capacity in phase 1, 50 percent in phase 2, and 75 percent in phase 3, spaced to the greatest extent possible according to the current reopening phase.
  • Determinations of student placement in a distance or in-person education program: Determinations are made in consideration of the student’s unique academic, social, emotional, familial, and medical needs, in consultation with the student’s parent or custodian.
  • Exceptions: LEAs will address medical or disability exceptions on an individual basis in accordance with local policies.

”I want to go to school because even if it’s going to be different and having to wear masks, I’d rather be doing it with my friends and everyone around,” Plainview senior, small forward, Mackenzie Willis said. “Without a doubt, I’ll definitely be wearing my mask and using sanitizer every chance I get-I just hope we get some sense of normality back,” she added.

“I never would have thought I would go into my senior year in high school having to wear a mask and limit to a certain amount of people in the classroom, but if it keeps me safe, and I get to enjoy my last year, I’m fine with it,” Terrence Williams said.

Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

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