August 21, 2020 Update

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,

We have completed Week 2 of this challenging school year, and we all continue to be amazed by the commitment and determination of everyone. Teachers are demonstrating their expertise in bringing innovative strategies to complex instructional frameworks that include in-person and ongoing, real-time virtual learning. School principals and leaders are providing the right support at all touchpoints. Operational and administrative services are ensuring targeted support and services to students and instructional staff. Our school nurses continue to provide expert guidance and support for prevention and response to COVID-19 as we operate schools. Students have been very cooperative, and that has allowed us to make successful academic progress. And, parents have been a tremendous source of encouragement and support in both our partnership for in-person learning and by cooperating with our guidelines to ensure online learning does not have unnecessary distractions or interruptions.

We are confident that our Safety Guidelines are tightly aligned with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). We have experienced successful implementation of preventative measures as well as an effective response to positive cases. However, we know that both the medical experts and the workplace are learning together, and, as such, we are affirming the effectiveness of what is believed to be best practices. One of our efforts to gather expert feedback and guidance in practice is a partnership with Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL). Experts with OLOL will review the daily implementation of our preventative and response guidelines at schools to affirm our effort and help us make improvements if needed. These reviews began this week and will occur at each level (primary, middle, and high). If there are any changes to our guidelines or practices that result from this review, we will certainly share that information with you. 

Recently, it has been brought to our attention by DHH and LDOE that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend neck gaiters as a substitute for cloth face coverings (see page 7 of LDOE FAQs). As such, we are recommending that students and staff transition from using neck gaiters to using cloth face masks as soon as possible. Our goal is to ensure that students maintain the highest level of protection throughout the school day by making this safety change. Principals will communicate with you regarding details to fully implement this transition by Labor Day.

We are aware there are two tropical systems predicted to enter the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Please know, we are closely monitoring these forecasts. At this time, we are planning for a normal school day on Monday. However, if that changes we will notify you. As always during hurricane season, we encourage you to make appropriate plans for your family. Ascension Parish Government is providing pre-filled sandbags. Click here for a list of locations or call the Citizens Service Center at 225-450-1200.

I hope you have a safe and restful weekend. We are looking forward to continued school successes in Week 3!
David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools