The Iberia Parish School District announced the rollout plan for the new school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic at Wednesday’s meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Heath Hulin said the plan comes after direction from the state Department of Education, as well as several meetings held with staff, parents and stakeholders in Iberia Parish.
All school districts in the state have to abide by several state guidelines, Hulin said. For Phase 1 of the state reopening, classes can be no more than 10 people including students. For Phase 2, that number extends to 25 and Phase 3 extends to 50 per class.
Hulin said the current plan, which was changed due to the outlook of the pandemic, includes separating middle and high school students into a Group A and Group B. One group will report to school at the beginning of the week, while the other group reports at the end of the week. When they are not in school, the students will be completing their assignments and tests online with Chromebooks that will be distributed to every member of the student body.
Elementary students, however, will be reporting for a full five-day school schedule. The change is not necessary, the school district said, because elementary students remain with the same class throughout the day and are also less likely to contract and spread the virus.
If a parent wishes, they will also be able to have their student not attend school altogether and get lessons online with a state approved curriculum.
While most of the board members were on board with the plan, board member Brad Norris expressed skepticism. Norris said that holding students accountable while learning virtually would be nearly impossible.
“I’m not saying we shouldn't worry about the COVID, we need to put safety measures in place,” Norris said. “Hand sanitizers and keeping the kids together, that should be done. But to not have them in front of a teacher five days a week is not going to work.”
Superintendent of Schools Carey Laviolette responded that the plan was in line with state recommendations and nearby school districts who were implementing similar rollouts.
“I think it would be very difficult for Iberia Parish to be the lone ranger in not following the guidelines,” Laviolette said. “Everybody’s going to have to step up what they were doing and how they were doing it.”
Hulin added that the plan was only meant for the start of the school year.
“This plan is not for the duration of the school year, it’s to get us started,” Hulin said. “We have to be fluid because who knows what’s going to happen in the school year.