Caddo Parish Public Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year with a combination of models designed to allow for in-person and virtual instruction while prioritizing the safety of students and staff.
When the school year begins on Aug. 24, Caddo elementary schools will provide daily classroom instruction. To safely allow for face-to-face instruction, Caddo will begin each day with temperature screenings of all students and staff, limit group sizes to a maximum of 25, emphasize proper hand hygiene and require all staff as well as students in third grade and above to wear masks. Students will remain in static groups to decrease opportunities for contact with others and to maximize instructional time.
As for middle and high school grades, students will attend school in the district’s hybrid model. Outlined in detail in the district’s reopening plan, Caddo Strong Start: The Roadmap to Reopening, the model will allow students to receive instruction using a combination of face-to-face and virtual models. The schedule will be as follows:
- Monday and Wednesday – “A” Days
- Tuesday and Thursday – “B” Days
- Friday – All virtual instruction
On a student’s designated days, they will report to campus where staff will follow all applicable health and safety guidance. This includes limited class sizes with half the student population on campus at a given time, daily temperature screenings, hand hygiene, social distancing and the use of masks for all adults as well as students.
If parents do not feel comfortable sending their children physically to school, they have the option to enroll in an engaging, rigorous virtual model. Schools will offer all students access to fully virtual instruction from teachers at a child’s home campus. Students will be required to participate and engage in online learning. A child’s teachers will provide feedback on assignments and create lessons in alignment with some of the highest quality online learning models available today. Assignments will be graded in accordance with the Caddo Parish School Board’s approved grading policy. Devices will be made available for students in need of technology.
Families choosing full-time virtual learning must commit to a minimum of a nine-week period. Registration begins on July 16 through each school. Registration information will be provided by schools in the coming days.
“We have spent months preparing to welcome children and staff back to school on Aug. 10,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Schools. “The decisions announced today were made knowing there is no right answer for all children or families. Our team has been working around the clock to provide a safe and emotionally secure learning environment. We know this time is met with many emotions from excitement to fear, and everywhere in between. We will continue to face this unprecedented time together as one Caddo family.”
The instructional models announced Monday will be in place for 30 days after the start of school. At that time, leadership will reassess using the latest information and trend data available. In all models, the district will follow all state and federal requirements, rely on local health experts for guidance in decision-making and adopt reasonable practices while maintaining an effective learning environment.
After extensive consultation with the Louisiana Department of Health as we work to support health and safety efforts to see a decline in new cases and hospitalizations related to the virus, Monday’s announcement also includes a decision to push back the start of the school year by two weeks to Aug. 24. In addition to support from the medical community, this timeline allows our families more time to learn more about the district’s new learning management system and to obtain needed resources for student learning. This modification in the calendar will result in the school year ending at a later date as well.
Caddo is prepared to provide access to the safest use of district support services in all models of instruction. Campuses will be intensely cleaned with CDC-recommended products.
With Caddo serving more than 670,000 meals since schools closed in March, the district understands the important role played in providing access to nutritious meals. Cafeteria staff will serve meals using the grab-and-go program which will allow for breakfast and lunch in designated areas of campuses without groups congregating. For students in the hybrid model, meals will be sent home with students to eat on days when they are not on campus for instruction.
Transportation will be provided to all eligible students for any in-person instruction. If at all possible, Caddo is encouraging parents to transport their children to school. If this option is not feasible, face masks must be worn on all district buses and hand sanitizer will be provided as students enter and exit the bus. Buses also will be cleaned between each run and at the end of each day.
Understanding the needs of students and teachers alike, the district has extensively studied options for an optimal learning-management system to better allow families to see in real-time a student’s status on assignments and interact with teachers, as requested by parents in district surveys. Furthermore, teacher survey responses indicated any learning-management system must reshape the instructional experience to better support the teacher rather than adding to their day.
To meet these needs, Caddo has partnered with the nation’s leading K-12 virtual learning organization, Canvas, to provide students with unparalleled online learning opportunities. Used by more than 2,000 school districts, colleges, and universities, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Baylor University, and Texas A&M University, Canvas will allow teachers to align virtual and in-person instruction in a manner previously not possible. Canvas allows teachers the creativity and flexibility they have been seeking while having a strong foundation supported by districts across the country. The user-friendly platform can be optimized based on grade level, teachers’ individual styles and needs to support students. Teachers will be trained throughout July and August in this robust learning management system to be prepared for the upcoming year.
Caddo also will provide virtual Canvas training to families to better understand the system and how it can support student learning.
“We believe our district is only successful when working in partnership with our families and we are proud to offer our parents resources that will allow for success this school year,” Dr. Goree said. “Our focus is first and foremost on safety along with how we can provide access to high-quality instruction. We stand ready to support our students and families as we work together through these difficult times.”