JENNINGS – The start of a new school year is less than a month away, and the Jeff Davis Parish School Board is advising unvaccinated students and staff to continue masking up to mitigate risk of COVID-19 as students return to in-person learning.
“We are highly recommending that if you are not fully vaccinated that you wear a mask for your protection, but we are not mandating masks,” Superintendent Kirk Credeur said.
Masks will be optional for fully vaccinated students, staff and visitors.
Masks will also be required on all buses in accordance with federal mandates requiring passengers and drivers on all public transportation to wear a mask.
“Because they are in an enclosed area on a bus they must wear a mask,” Credeur said.
Disposable masks will be provided to students who do not have a mask.
Students will also be encouraged to keep three feet between each other and stay six feet away from adults in the classroom.
Students in second grade or lower, who do not wear masks or maintain social distance, are recommended to stay in static groups during the school day.
Any student or staff who is sick, regardless of the illness, will be advised to stay home.
School staff will continue to conduct routine cleaning. High-touch surfaces including bathroom, classrooms and libraries, will be cleaned twice a day, according to the guidelines.
‘We are highly recommending that if you are not fully vaccinated that you wear a mask for your protection, but we are not mandating masks.’
Jeff Davis superintendent
Essential visitors, including counselors, health personnel, family court advocates, state personnel and mentors, will be allowed in the schools.
“We are also going to identify a few of our co-curricular clubs, like 4-H as essential,” he said. “That is because 4-H comes does lessons with the kids, so it’s part of our education and we will allow them to come in. We will not allow anyone who is non-essential.”
Many of the guidelines are part of the Louisiana Department of Education’s “Ready to Achieve” plan recommending best practices for a safe return to schools.
The board also agreed to extend its emergency paid sick leave for the COVID-19 pandemic until Jan. 1, 2022, for those employees who have not used their allotted benefits.
The extension will provide job-protected leave and emergency paid sick leave for up to 10 days for all employees who may have had close contact with a person having tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact is considered being within six feet or more of a person who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes.