Caddo Schools is actively preparing to reopen schools this fall with the safety of students and staff as the top priority.
Caddo Strong Start 2020-2021 before the Caddo Parish School Board on Tuesday, Chief Academic Officer Keith Burton provided an overview of three draft models created using guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Louisiana Department of Health. These plans include a traditional model, hybrid model, and virtual model of operating schools.
“The guiding force for our district has been to get our students back in school, but we will only do so if we can provide our students a quality education safely and securely,” Burton said. “These proposed models were developed in consultation with medical professionals, principals, curriculum teams, educators, and our Operations Division. Our goal is to provide instruction in a variety of formats using the lessons gained this spring but also how we can best support our students and staff through such transitions.”
Caddo’s commitment is to provide students with opportunities to minimize the impact of lost instructional time, including remediation, regardless of the restrictions in place at a given time. To support this commitment, the district is in the process of securing additional devices to provide technology access to students, and Caddo will work with families through community partnerships to access Internet connectivity where issues may arise.
Preparing for the 2020-2021 school year, the district is currently working with school staff, including teachers and administrators, to provide training and supports on virtual resources and how to enhance virtual instruction. Caddo also will offer training and supports to students and families to assist them in using our learning management system used in the delivery of instruction.
“I am incredibly proud of our teachers and staff, and the incredible way they completely changed the way they delivered instruction in a matter of a week last March,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Schools. “Moving forward, we must build off of the lessons learned in the spring and provide an instructional model that is faster in implementation and provides greater support of our students and families.”
In accordance with current guidance, all models of instruction presented Tuesday call for adults and students in middle and high schools to wear masks to the maximum extent possible. Individuals with severe breathing difficulties should not wear masks.
In the Traditional Model of district operations, Caddo students will report to schools on Aug. 10 with the district allowing for face-to-face instruction as well as an all-virtual model for students whose families do not feel comfortable with students returning to campuses. In this model, elementary students will remain in static groups, and middle and high school students may be allowed to change classes while maintaining social distancing. Students deemed medically fragile or high risk will be provided virtual instruction.
The district will also follow social distancing guidance and provide frequent opportunities for handwashing for all students and staff. Breakfast and lunch will be provided through the district’s “grab and go” system and will be scheduled in classrooms and other designated areas.
Burton also presented to the Board for consideration a Hybrid Model, which would limit campuses to a 50 percent capacity with a virtual model of instruction available.
The Hybrid Model would allow the district as early as the first day of school to begin the year using an “A/B” schedule. The schedule would allow for all students on Mondays to access instruction virtually while Tuesdays and Thursdays would be an “A” day and Wednesdays and Fridays for a “B” day. Students would be grouped in alphabetical order for middle and high schools to determine students on campus versus those receiving instruction virtually every day. Elementary school students would be grouped as deemed appropriate by their principal. The district also will work with families to evaluate individual adjustments to keep siblings together, improve transportation routes or other needs.
A student’s selection of all virtual instruction or an “A/B” schedule is for a minimum of a 9-week period.
In the Hybrid Model, multiple meals will be provided for all students to take home for the days they are not at school. Schools will also designate specific entry and exit points, and no assemblies will be allowed. Visitors will not be able to enter buildings unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Building off the model launched in March following facility closures statewide, Caddo has spent recent weeks reviewing its areas of success and growth in virtual instruction. The Virtual Model proposed for the 2020-2021 school year will require the district to implement a new learning management system to better support students and teachers. Instruction through this system will be provided using a dual model of live virtual education as well as on-demand lessons. Teachers will receive coaching and feedback on the quality of resources and instructional delivery for school leadership teams.
From the Operations Division, the district will provide meals for the week each Monday, as is currently taking place each week. The Virtual Model will not allow public access into district schools or sites.
In all models, it is important for families to note student work will be assessed and graded.
Concerning transportation, bus services will continue to be provided for eligible students. The district will stagger the unloading of buses at schools to minimize student group sizes while ensuring social distancing. All passengers should engage in hand hygiene upon entering the bus. Masks or other face coverings should be worn by all students and staff. Students are discouraged from congregating in large groups at bus stops.
The models provided by the district represent the latest guidance and are subject to change based on best practices and guidance provided by state and federal entities.