SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The superintendent of Caddo schools announced at a news conference Monday morning that the district will delay reopening by two weeks.
Dr. Lamar Goree cited the latest surge in coronavirus cases and the need for more time to prepare in announcing the new August 24 start date.
“We see this as an opportunity to allow our community to truly impact the impact of the latest health guidelines and restrictions,” said Goree. “I think we all are aware that we had made amazing progress from March to June, but we’ve certainly seen a very alarming regression in that progress.”
Goree noted that a survey found more than a quarter of parents did not feel comfortable returning children to school or that they did not have enough information to feel confident in doing so.
“Throughout our surveying, I think it’s very important to note that about 26% of our families did not feel comfortable or did not feel they had the information to safely allow their children to return to school. Interestingly enough, we saw similar numbers with our teachers and our staff. It is important to me that every child and every teacher feel comfortable when they return to work. We see this two-week window a opportunity to increase those opportunities to learn more about the things that we’re doing to support our staff.”
Goree announced plans for a hybrid A/B schedule model for both middle and high schools (grades 6-12) when instruction does resume, while elementary schools (K-5) will resume in the traditional form, with 25 people maximum per class including adults and social distancing modifications.
Students assigned to “A” day will attend school on Monday and Wednesday. “B” day will attend Tuesday and Thursday. Friday will be virtual day for all students, with an option for small group learning at schools for students who may need more help with certain subjects. The A/B groups will be determined by administrators at each school.
All adults will wear masks and students in grade 3 and up will wear masks. Students will also be required to wear masks on buses, which Goree also emphasized will continue to run their regular schedules and routes.
There will also be an option for parents to enroll their children in full-time virtual instruction through their schools, and Goree said there is a plan to ensure internet access for families who do not currently have it.
Enrollment for the virtual option will open on July 16.
The district says it has “exhaustively and diligently reviewed guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana Department of Education, the American Association of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop models of instruction to support our students and families” in developing the plan.
“These people right here are really in a no-win situation,” said Louisiana Department of Health Region 7 Medical Director Dr. Martha Whyte, who was invited to speak at the news conference to share an update on the coronavirus situation in the region. “There are gonna be people who are not happy that we’re not in school all the time, there are going to be people who are not happy that we’re not virtual all the time. I want you to know that they have worked so hard to try to find the best option for the children in this parish that they can come up with, with the data that we know right now.
Will this be where we are on August 24th? We’re not sure, but we’re gonna keep monitoring everything as we go.”