Senate Committee on Education discusses how to safely reopen public schools in the fall

Senate Committee on Education discusses plans for students returning to campus in the fall

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Senate Committee on Education discussed plans Thursday night (June 25) about reopening Louisiana’s K-12 schools in the fall.

Presenting at the meeting were Dr. Cade Brumley, superintendent of education, and Dr. Courtney Phillips, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.

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“We just felt it was really important to go ahead and set forth what we believe would be best practices right now at this point for our school systems, so they can either validate the planning that they’ve done, or make changes,” said Brumley, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education.

Folks on the Senate Committee on Education were able to ask questions to Brumley or Philips to get an understanding of their recommendations for the 2020 Fall semester.

The presentation was put together by both the Department of Health and the Department of Education. It touched on coronavirus and the impact it could have on the learning environment.

"It seems like we're going to need extra buses, we're going to have to run extra routes, we're going to have to have extra school bus drivers," said Senator Katrina Jackson, (D) Monroe.

"Is this within your authority to mandate? We have adult senators who do not wear a mask," said Senator Beth Mizell, (R) Franklinton.

"And options in learning in terms of online learning in terms of additional classroom contact, where are you all with that," questioned Senator Cleo Fields, (D) Baton Rouge.

The recommendations for group sizes, including adults, are:

For Phase 1: 10 people

Phase 2: 25 people

Phase 3: 50 people

But what about buses?

“With transportation at phase 1, you can operate a bus at this point at 25% capacity. Phase 2, that’s 50% capacity. And, at phase 3 that’s 75% capacity,” said Brumley.

And they are recommending children wear a mask and get their temperature checked when they get off the bus.

“We feel like it’s appropriate for grades three and above to wear a face-covering during the school day. Obviously it’s perfectly fine for any student grade two and above to wear a face covering. In terms of temperature checks, we think it’s important as schools come on to campus for the first time every day, that they have that temperature checked,” said Brumley.

And what about virtual learning, will that still be an option?

"So we're asking systems to please consider building out a virtual platform for parents who might not be comfortable sending their child back to school, regardless of what phase the state might be in," said Brumley.

They are asking parents to bear with them, as we all deal with COVID-19.

Right now, the Department of Health and Education can not mandate these recommendations.

All the decisions concerning your children are really still in the hands of their particular school district.

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