Parish schools to open in 'traditional manner' on August 6

As of now, the Washington Parish schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year on August 6 in a traditional manner.

However, the parish school system is advising parents that a plan has been developed that covers each possible phase in which schools may be required to open, due to Coronavirus. The plan being used by Washington Parish Schools was developed with guidance from the state Department of Education, the state Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office. The plan is subject to change as guidance from these agencies change.

Washington Parish Superintendent of Schools Frances Varnado has issued a letter for parents and others that explains the current situation and the current plans for the upcoming school year. That letter reads as follows:

Washington Parish Families and Community, I hope you and your families are healthy, safe, and well.

I am coming to you today with several updates regarding the important planning our district and school administrators have been engaging in over the last several weeks as we prepare to welcome students and employees physically back to campus in August as scheduled. Despite the uncertainty that lies with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to implementing a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school in accordance with guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As a district, we are using available information and collaborating with local and state leaders to carefully and strategically plan for multiple potential scenarios for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Our commitment to our families is to provide strong learning opportunities for all students regardless of the scenario.

For the past several weeks, our teams have been planning for three possibilities for students' return to campuses in August. Using guidance and expert knowledge from across the state, and knowing that health restrictions may call us to switch between scenarios, we are currently planning for the following types of learning situations:

•Traditional learning with schools open to students as usual while following CDC recommended safety guidelines for class sizes, social distancing, and movement;

•Hybrid learning with schools open to groups of students using a combination of traditional and distance learning; and,

•Distance learning with teacher led remote instruction and learning.

Later this week, State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Cade Brumley, will be providing additional guidance regarding the start of school. Upon receiving that guidance, our administrators will be working around-the-clock to secure plans to provide instruction while at the same time addressing the physical, mental, and social well-being of our students, and the needs of the community. As we get further clarity regarding what families can anticipate, we will share that information.

Parents and families can expect continued updates to be found on our school and district websites and Facebook accounts over the coming weeks.

While there are still many unknowns in the coming months, I want to assure our families that our school system is working hard to ensure that children will begin the upcoming year as safely and successfully as possible, given the current situation. As always, the health and safety of our students and employees remain our top priorities.

Frances Varnado, Superintendent, Washington Parish School System

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