First Day 2020-21

Students arrive for the first day of the 2020-21 school year on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

Starting next week, Livingston Parish students will return to traditional, five-days-a-week learning on their home campuses.

The Livingston Parish Public Schools system will implement a four-day, phase-in approach to bring all students back to campus as it moves forward to Phase Three of its “LPPS Start Strong” reopening plan, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Phase Three allows for all students in grades Pre-K to 12 to receive face-to-face instruction five days per week on their home campuses. The local school district started the 2020-21 school year in Phase Two, which combined in-person and virtual learning, depending on the student.

The announcement comes one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state will enter Phase Three of its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic beginning on Friday, Sept. 11. Louisiana had been in Phase Two since early June.

Currently, Livingston Parish students in grades Pre-K-5 attend classes five days per week at their assigned school campuses, along with select groups of others students. The district will open that same schedule to students in grades 6-12 over a four-day period beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Listed below is the schedule for how students will return to campus.

-- Grades 6 and 9 will return full time to campus beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16

-- Grades 7 and 10 will return full time to campus beginning Thursday, Sept. 17

-- Grades 8 and 11 will return full time to campus beginning Friday, Sept. 18

-- Grade 12 will return full time to campus beginning Monday, Sept. 21

In a statement, Murphy noted that the district is utilizing the same phase-in approach it used earlier this semester to add students in grades 3-5 to its five-day-per-week schedule, saying the transition “proved to work well with minimal issues.”

“We reached out to our principals and school leaders to decide on a transition strategy that was best for our teachers and students, and we agreed on this phase-in approach,” Murphy said in a statement.

Despite a return to a more traditional learning environment, it is not a total “return to normal,” Murphy said, noting that some restrictions will stay in place.

Buses will only increase from 50-percent capacity to 75-percent capacity — or no more than 54 students per 72-passenger bus — and riders will still be required to sanitize their hands upon entering.

Students will still be given multiple opportunities to wash hands throughout the school day, and masks will still be required for students in grades 3-12, as well as for employees.

School officials will continue to perform temperature checks every day by the end of first hour, and anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.

Students will continue to pick up lunch in the cafeterias in static groups before eating in their classrooms or designated areas.

Murphy said the district will adhere to the LHSAA guidelines for sporting events, including allowances for practice and competition. Band and music groups will also be allowed to perform within defined groups.

While the traditional on-campus option is available to all students, Murphy said those who wish to remain in the district's 100 percent virtual learning option due to health concerns “will be accommodated.”

There are currently 2,590 students receiving 100-percent virtual instruction — a figure that dropped by 387 from a high of 2,977 after the district added grades 3-5 to its five-day on-campus schedule.

“We expect the numbers in our 100% virtual learning group to significantly drop again once these additional grades are phased into full-time campus instruction,” Murphy said. “However, those who still wish to remain 100% virtual due to health concerns will be accommodated.”

Murphy encouraged parents who could provide personal transportation for their children to continue to do so to help the district manage the capacity limitation with the busses. He also asked parents to contact the principal of their child’s school to make the district aware of any concerns or questions they might have.

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