DONALDSONVILLE, La. (WAFB) - Officials with Ascension Parish Public Schools say the school district will begin transitioning into Phase 3 of reopening using guidelines from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).
The new guidelines allow for the school system to serve larger group sizes, transport more students on buses, and allow for more extracurricular activities, according to Superintendent David Alexander.
The new guidelines from BESE and LDOE allow for events involving singing and wind instruments in school bands to be held outside with proper social distancing. Band and choir activities involving singing and wind instruments cannot be held inside during Phase 3. However, string and percussion performances without singing or an audience members are allowed indoors.
See the superintendent’s full message, released Wednesday, Sept. 16:
"We have mentioned previously, there are many guidelines that are common to each phase. Frequent washing of hands, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, symptom monitoring at the beginning of the day, and face coverings are among the many items that are common to all phases in the guidelines. Also, our response to confirmed positive cases will remain the same; that is, we will provide a public notification after we have completed the appropriate contact tracing and reported the confirmed case to the Louisiana Department of Health, as we have always done. We continue to expect positive cases to exist, but we will continue our diligent effort to ensure that cases brought to the school building do not result in an infectious spread within a class or a building. We are very grateful for the hard work of our nurses who have been outstanding in their support of opening schools and handling confirmed cases. We are also grateful for the work of Our Lady of the Lake and their partnership to help us assess our implementation of guidelines and audit our efforts in schools. For your information, the following are several guiding documents and resources in which we must follow:
- BESE Bulletin 741 and LDOE’s Strong Start Guidelines that provide overall guidance for opening schools
- LDOE’s Frequently Asked Questions that provide interpretive information about the BESE guidance
- Louisiana’s Open Safely guidelines with statewide information
- LHSAA website that provides guidance for athletics
All of these are resources that we are required to follow as it relates to operating schools, hosting events, and supporting athletics and extracurricular activities. Below you will find our plans for transitioning grades to more in-person learning under Phase 3. As communicated in August, students that opted to be fully online will remain in their chosen online platform until the end of the first 9 weeks. We will transition students who choose to move to in-person learning Oct. 14-16, 2020. More instructions will be shared next week with details about how to apply for that transition.
Our Pre-K through 5th grade students will continue daily in-person learning under Phase 3. Some slight differences may be seen in group sizes for daily events such as P.E., recess, and lunch. However, groups will stay static as much as possible and students will remain distanced to the greatest extent possible.
Our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students will transition to daily in-person learning in a phased-in schedule starting Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.
By Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, all middle school students will attend daily in-person learning. This will continue while Louisiana is under Phase 3.
Most 9th through 12th grade students will continue in a hybrid schedule of alternating in-person and online learning at least through the end of the first nine weeks with some exceptions. Donaldsonville High School will move to daily in-person learning starting Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. However, due to the large size of their student populations, Dutchtown High, East Ascension High, and St. Amant High will continue a hybrid schedule for at least the remainder of the first 9 weeks. Additional information about high school transitions from hybrid to daily in-person learning will be communicated out by September 30, 2020.
FREE STUDENT MEALS
Please remember, the United States Department of Agriculture has allocated funds to allow all Ascension Public Schools students to receive one free breakfast and one free lunch per school day. Meals offered at curbside will also be served to students at no cost. This began on Sept. 10th and will continue until the allocated funds are depleted. For more information about our Child Nutrition program and to view menus, visit www.apsb.org/page/lunch-menu. We hope students take advantage of free, nutritious school meals each day.
In closing, please know that we keep gratitude at the forefront of our thoughts! So in the spirit of gratitude, I know you join us in applauding the efforts of our teachers, administrators, and support staff at our schools. We also applaud the efforts of all the district-level workers who have supported schools in their efforts to reopen. And certainly, we applaud our students and you, the families in Ascension, for your support and cooperation! Everyone’s effort and commitment have been phenomenal and have allowed us to experience many successes, so far.
I know there will remain challenges and successes ahead as we work to interpret and implement new guidelines and offer new opportunities during Phase 3. As always, we ask for your patience as we work together to solve problems and overcome challenges. Finally, please understand, should Louisiana return to Phase 2, we will have to make that shift in our schools immediately, returning to an approach that we used to open schools this year."
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