Students get off a bus.

The Livingston Parish Public Schools system will begin the 2020-21 school year in Phase Two of its reopening plan, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Phase Two of the “LPPS Start Strong” plan features a mixture of distance and in-person instruction. Around 26,000 students attend 44 schools in Livingston Parish.

The school year is set to start on Friday, Aug. 7. 

“We will start as we have planned in Phase Two,” Murphy told The News.

The latest announcement comes the same day Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’d be extending his current order keeping Louisiana in Phase Two of its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This marks the third time the governor has extended Phase Two, following a four-week extension in June and a two-week extension in July. Last month, Edwards added other restrictions to the order, including a statewide mask mandate, a closure of on-site consumption at bars, and a 50-person limit on social gatherings.

The earliest the state can now enter Phase Three would be Friday, Aug. 28.

For the Livingston Parish Public Schools community, Phase Two means a mixture of virtual and on-campus learning, dependent on the grade level of the student.

Students in grades Pre-K-2, students with significant disabilities participating in alternate assessment, and students attending the ELEC Center will report to class for in-person instruction five days a week.

Students in grades 3-12 will return to school on an assigned schedule and learn through a mix of in-person and distance instruction.

Under Phase Two — when only half of the school system’s students would be allowed on campus at a time — the district will implement an A/B model to provide in-person instruction to half of the parish’s students in grades 3-12 on alternating days.

In this phase, Group A would attend school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday, while Group B would attend on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday.

On days that students are not physically on campus, teachers will provide online assignments to be completed using a digital platform, or students will join the live class remotely. Instruction will be a combination of synchronous learning (teacher-led) and asynchronous learning (self-paced).

Other requirements under Phase Two would include:

-- Students will be required to complete assignments online using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms on those days they are not on campus.

-- Parents will be encouraged to drive their children to and from school as possible. Buses will run with no more than 50-percent capacity (36 students per bus), and riders will be required to wear masks and to sanitize their hands upon entering.

-- No more than 25 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.

-- Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees on campuses would be required to wear masks.

-- Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. 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 not dress out for physical education. Locker rooms will be closed.

-- Students will refrain from contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music. Some fall sports and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.

-- All students will be offered breakfast upon entering their school campuses. Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas. Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 25 students, and they will eat in designated areas. Students enrolled in virtual learning, or who are receiving instruction through distance learning that day, will be offered “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up. The students must be in the cars to receive the meals.

If the state were to move backward into Phase One, the school system will provide distance learning opportunities for all students in grades Pre-K-12, with the exception of a small group of students on an as-needed basis. This will be done using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms as well as live virtual instruction.

School would return to its most traditional format under Phase Three, when all students in the district would receive face-to-face instruction five days a week.

According to the district’s reopening plans, adults and students in grades 3-12 must wear face coverings “during transition times, inside and outside of the classroom, and other times when they cannot observe social distance recommendations.”

Two weeks ago, the district revealed its “100 Percent Virtual” learning model for Livingston Parish parents who fear sending their children to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, parents who opt for virtual learning must commit to the structure for a full grading period, which could be nine weeks or a semester, depending on the grade level. Those who participate in the virtual option will also not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, band, and other school clubs.

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