State schools

Louisiana School Districts “Have Enough Expertise” In COVID Response, Says Public School Chief | Education

How public schools handle the latest wave of coronavirus cases will depend on local school officials in 69 districts rather than any diktat from the Department of Education.

“I think local decision-making here really matters,” said state superintendent of education Cade Brumley. “And I think you will see nuanced approaches based on the demands of local communities.”

Students return to class all week after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Virtual education in Louisiana is “patchy at best” and requires increased state oversight, according to a report released Wednesday by Public Affa …

But this mini-vacation, and all the tight-knit gatherings amid growing cases of the omicron variant in Louisiana, raise questions about whether educators should shift gears on how to tackle the latest challenge.

Some states are opting for the “test to stay,” testing students exposed to the virus for consecutive days so they can stay in class rather than being forced to quarantine themselves at home.

Districts and the state’s roughly 120 public chartered schools are free to do so using part of the $ 4 billion in federal aid aimed at fighting the virus. However, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health said that option was largely scrapped a few weeks ago as new CDC guidelines for schools are expected overnight. .

The state’s Department of Education website has 13 pages of “potential practices” for local school systems, including monitoring for symptoms, extracurricular activities, and vaccines.

The omicron 2022 update, which reflects changes recommended late last year by the CDC, says students who test positive for the virus should stay home for five days and, if they do no symptoms, they can return to class and wear a face mask for another five days. The previous quarantine period was 10 days.

“We have a list of potential LDH recommended practices,” said Brumley, a reference with the Louisiana Department of Health.

“But our position has been that local educators and teachers in their communities must make decisions based on the best interests of their students and employees,” he said.

In a major change, public school students will be allowed to stay in classrooms even if they have close contact with someone testing the post …

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“I think the systems have enough expertise in COVID mitigation at this point to be fluid and deal with situations with common sense as they go.”

Last year, Brumley sparked controversy when he said local districts should be allowed to keep students in the classroom if they are in close contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus rather than be quarantined at home as long as their parents or guardians support the movement.

Despite the advice of medical experts, 14 members of the Republican Chamber on Monday questioned the need for children aged 5 to 11 to contract the coronavirus …

Edwards and public health officer Dr Joseph Kanter denounced the move.

Doris Voitier, superintendent of the Saint-Bernard parish school district, said she had seen a slight increase in positive cases since classes resumed on Monday.

“They don’t seem to be that bad, but we have more of them,” said Voitier, a reference to how omicron compares to what experts say is the deadliest Delta variant.

Mike Faulk, executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, said many local superintendents are on hold on how to respond to omicron.

Sito Narcisse, school system superintendent for East Baton Rouge Parish, said front face masks will remain mandatory for students at least until January.

In a letter to parents on Monday, Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent David Alexander said face coverings will remain optional in school buildings and offices.

Kindergarten to grade eight students returned to school on Wednesday and high school students are expected to do so on Thursday.

“We have already experienced high cases in our community and as such we expect cases to likely appear in our schools at a higher level than we experienced in November and December,” wrote Alexander.

West Baton Rouge Parish school system superintendent Wes Watts said the only policy change for his district is to reduce the quarantine time for students who test positive to five days, in accordance with new guidelines from the CDE.