An Important Message from the Superintendent

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,

We are very grateful for the shared commitment to make the initial days of third- through eighth-grade state assessments a success. State testing will continue this week for grades 3 – 8 to include make-up days. District leaders, district support staff, school leaders, school support staff, teachers, and counselors all did an outstanding job of ensuring that we were properly prepared for a safe and effective state assessment administration. Our students are working hard to do their very best each day as they participate in state testing and our parents have been supportive and cooperative to support the efforts of everyone. We are both excited and grateful to report that 98% of students in grades 3 - 8 have participated in state testing, thus far. And mentioned before, we are looking forward to using these results to prepare our work ahead to effectively meet student needs. The essential purpose of the results of state assessments is to inform our work, that is, affirm our work where it has been successful and identify areas where our work with students needs adjusting, both universally and for individual students. As always stated, the results in no way define the commitment and effort of our teachers and staff nor does it define the commitment and effort of our students. The work of our schools and our students is always more than a letter grade issued by the state. 
Our high school students will be participating in state testing during this month. In high school, the assessments are part of their graduation requirements, and the results are used as part of the student’s final grade in state-tested high school subjects. We are confident our high schoolers will do well!
The graduates of 2021 will complete their final exams and their final days of school this week. We know that they are excited, and we look forward to celebrating this critical milestone that they have achieved through many years of hard work, dedication, and commitment. We continue to encourage them to make good decisions as they celebrate this special accomplishment!  As we approach graduation ceremonies next week (May 12, 13 & 14), we want to remind everyone that we are using the guidelines prescribed for schools to use as released by the Louisiana State Fire Marshall's Office, Open Safely. Graduations are limited to stadium capacity for attendees, that is, attendees must be seated. This prohibits us from allowing standing-room-only opportunities for attendees. Please remember, the ceremonies will be live-streamed by EATEL for those that are unable to attend.  To watch the Donaldsonville High (May 14) ceremony, visit www.youtube.com/c/AscensionPublicSchools. To watch the Dutchtown High (May 12), St. Amant High (May 13), and East Ascension High (May 14) ceremonies, visit www.youtube.com/c/EATEL01.
These guidelines will also be our resource for hosting other year-end celebrations that take place outside the school day in all of our schools. High schools will be providing specific information to graduates and families regarding details for graduations as well as any other year-end celebrations hosted by the school to honor students. Similarly, primary and middle schools will be sending out guidance, as well, as they work to provide traditional year-end events that honor students outside the regular school day.   
A few important statements from the Open Safely document regarding events and attending events:
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT to remember is that COVID-19 is still prevalent across the state. We must all continue to do our part to help slow the spread, protect the most vulnerable and continue to remain vigilant until a cure or vaccine is widely available to provide general immunity.
  • Individuals 65 years or older, people of all ages with poor control of medical issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or a weakened immune system are at a higher risk for getting very sick or dying from COVID19 and should strictly adhere to all CDC guidelines, and are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.
  • Seating areas shall be provided for all proposed attendees in an arrangement that provides for compliance with 79-JBE-2021.
For regular school operations, we are required to continue to comply with BESE Bulletin 741, Chapter 4.  Also note, the most recent Governor’s Proclamation 79 JBE 2021 states: All early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions in the State of Louisiana shall continue to require all students, employees, and visitors to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth.
For athletics, we are required to continue to refer to LHSAA Guidelines for conducting athletic activities and hosting athletic events. 
As always, thanks to everyone for their continued effort to make this school year a successful one in spite of the many obstacles and challenges. We are grateful to have been able to successfully connect with students throughout this school year by providing in-person opportunities since Day 1 in August as well as providing families the opportunity for online learning. We are not done yet! We have work to do in the days ahead so that all students are ready for their next opportunity either this summer or next fall. Let’s all work together to make May a productive month of continued academic progress and a memorable month of year-end celebrations and events.

During these final days of the school year, we also hope that you will enjoy some time celebrating, recognizing, and honoring the accomplishments of students, the work of our teachers and staff, and the work of our community as we close out a school year that required great teamwork from everyone! 
Finally, we will be providing information about summertime activities and programs as soon as we receive clear guidance for operations. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to complete an anonymous survey about your experiences this school year. This feedback will help guide our work planning for 2021-22.

David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools