July 17, 2020 Update

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families


We know you are anxious for more detailed plans around the opening of school this fall. We have important information to share with you today that will be followed-up with school-specific messages from our principals early next week. Please take the time to read through this entire message.

NEW BESE POLICY
This week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed reopening mandates for schools to follow. Click here to read BESE's policy for reopening schools. We received this information Wednesday and participated in briefings from the Louisiana Department of Education yesterday. I am sharing this with you so that you understand the challenges of working out the details of our plans to ensure they comply with the latest measures. We will continue to be flexible with our work in order to make needed adjustments with changes to local, state, and federal guidelines in the future.

FACE COVERINGS
An important part of BESE'S policy is "while inside the school facility, all adults and students in grades 3 through 12 must wear a face covering to the greatest extent possible and practical." Please help students comply with this important safety measure that was recommended by medical experts to the Louisiana Dept. of Education and BESE. Face coverings must follow our student handbook guidelines (see page 41). Specifically, accessories with inappropriate decorations or advertisements are prohibited. We need our community to support this policy from BESE so that we can safely serve students without interruptions that would occur from compromised cooperation. We all look forward to the day when measures such as face coverings are no longer recommended by medical experts, but for now, please help us comply with this BESE standard.   

SCHOOL OPERATIONS FOR 2020-21
As communicated previously, our plans to serve students in-person is contingent upon Louisiana's reopening phases. For Phase 1, all students will participate in online learning with very few exceptions. For Phase 2, primary school students will participate in traditional, in-person learning every day (provided staffing in schools can successfully comply with maximum group size as mandated by BESE), and middle and high school students will rotate between in-person and online learning. For Phase 3, we will transition to serving all students in-person, although some schools may still utilize a hybrid model depending on enrollment and building capacity. For all phases, students will have the option to enroll in one of our online programs if they do not want to attend school in-person.

The following infographic provides an overview of our School Operations Plans. Click here or on the image to download a high-resolution copy.
phases infographic

REGISTRATION OPEN FOR ONLINE PROGRAMS
For students who chose not to attend traditional, in-person school, Ascension offers two types of online learning programs: Home-Based Virtual Learning (HBVL) and Blended Learning Program (BLP). Detailed information is now available on our website, www.apsb.org/online, about these programs. Additionally, online registration for the fall is open now until July 30, 2020.

NEW START DATE FOR STUDENTS
Our teachers return to work on Aug. 3, 2020, but we are moving the first day of school for students from Aug. 5th until Monday, Aug. 10th to allow teachers and staff more time to prepare. In addition, there will be a one-hour early dismissal every day for the first week of school so that teachers and staff can debrief. Furthermore, primary school students will attend one of four days Monday, Aug. 10th thru Thursday, Aug. 13th of the first week (see graphic below). All primary students will report on Friday, Aug. 14th, and will continue to attend daily moving forward until further notice. By serving primary students in smaller groups for the first four days, we will be able to support a smoother transition for students and staff as we learn new routines for school operations. Additionally, this provides us an opportunity to screen students academically and identify student needs. Middle and high schools will begin with their Phase 2 plans of 50% student attendance each day as will be their routine moving forward until further notice.  

Click here or on the image below to download a printable graphic for the start of school.
Use the link for an accessible PDF version

Please note, the delayed start of school for students should have no impact on the district's academic calendar including scheduled holidays.
 
Your child's school will follow-up with specific information to include what day (M- Th) your primary-age child will attend the first week of school as well details about the 50% groups in middle and high schools that attend every other day. You will receive this as soon as possible next week so that you can begin planning for a successful school year.
 
Thank you for your patience! We want to serve children in our buildings as often as we possibly can. As always, we continue to be grateful for your partnership, because without your help and your support there is no way we would overcome the challenges ahead of us to serve the children of this community.
 
Respectfully,
 
David Alexander
Superintendent
Ascension Public Schools