JENNINGS — The Jeff Davis Parish school district has unveiled plans for reopening schools on Aug. 14 that would require masks, social distancing and a blend of both in-person and remote learning.
Under the plan, all students in grades three and above would be required to wear masks, as able, at all times including buses, classrooms and transition times. Staff and visitors would also be required to wear a mask.
Exceptions would be made for younger students, those with severe breathing difficulties or other medical conditions and those with special needs.
"It is a courtesy to protect those around you, just like covering your mouth when you sneeze," Superintendent Kirk Credeur said.
Youth appear to be more asymptomatic and the largest spreaders of the virus according to medical evidence and wearing masks can significantly reduce the spread of the virus, he said.
Credeur said the reopening plans follow the latest recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Education and Department of Health and Hospitals under the current Phase 2 reopening, which limit group sizes to 25 people and school bus capacity to 50 percent. Phase 3 would increase group sizes to 50 people and transportation to 75 percent capacity.
Because of those restrictions, Credeur said schools will likely reopen with a combination of both in-person classes and online classes to optimize learning and preserve the health of both students and teachers.
"I don't like it because I like having students at school every day learning, but if this is what it will take to move us forward then I am for it," Credeur said. "We have to make sure we are teaching them the best as we can and are returning them to their parents as safe and healthy as possible.
"If we do not follow these guidelines, maintain the six-foot distance, wear masks and maintain good hygiene and a student or teacher tests positive, then everyone in that classroom will have to be quarantined for 14 days before we can allow them to return to school."
The plan calls for half of students attending school on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other half attending school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays would be used for distance learning with a competent for transferring extended lesson materials for students that do not have computer or internet access.
Credeur said the result would be fewer students in classrooms, cafeterias and buses allowing schools to follow social distancing and spacing guidelines.
The school district is working to obtain take-home devices and provide internet access to students in rural areas.
Classrooms, restrooms, buses and other high-traffic areas will be disinfected frequently throughout the day with Fridays reserved for "deep cleaning" of surfaces, he said.
Students and staff would also be required to practice good hygiene.