School System Updates

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    Stronger Start 2021 Log

  • August 20, 2021

    I hope everyone had a great start to the new school year. While we continue to work through the challenges of operating schools during a global pandemic, I just wanted to thank you for your continued support and understanding and share a few reminders.

    Although we have taken and continue to take proactive safety and health measures to mitigate potential spread and exposure of COVID-19, we know the virus is still very active in our community, state, and country. As expected and planned for, we have students and employees reporting confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. This will continue as we operate schools during this pandemic.

    We must continue to be prepared for possible classroom and/or school closures. Please know that the safety of our employees and students is paramount and any decision relative to schools and/or classroom closures will be made in collaboration with public health officials. In the unfortunate event we must close a school or classroom temporarily or for an extended period of time, we will notify you via phone call, email and text. Each school is prepared to provide continued learning for students in the event of a closure through the use of district-provided technology.

    We ask our students, families, and employees to help us keep the virus outside of our buildings by practicing social distancing while in the community, wearing a face covering especially while gathering outside of school, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick. If your child is sick and/or exhibiting symptoms, or has been identified as a close contact to a confirmed positive individual, they must remain home and should not come to school. Remember, there are a wide-range of symptoms associated with COVID-19 including sinus symptoms. Do not send your child to school or come to work when exhibiting mild symptoms such as a headache or stomach ache.

    Home COVID-19 test kits cannot be accepted as official confirmation of test results for school purposes. You will need to contact the SCPPS COVID-19 Nursing Team to arrange for a re-test by a verified testing agent. Once the proper approval has been given by the SCPPS COVID-19 nursing team, students can test at Access Health at no cost.

    Also, please do not send your child to school if they are awaiting test results. They must remain home.

    We appreciate your assistance and cooperation as we continue to serve our students and families during these trying times. Please stay safe and healthy.

    Dr. Ken Oertling
    Superintendent
    St. Charles Parish Public Schools

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    August 3, 2021

    Our Stronger Start 2021 Family Guide has been updated following the governor's mask mandate announced on August 2, 2021.

    Per the governor’s order, masks are required indoors for visitors, employees, and kindergarten through 12th grade students while on school system properties. 

    Masks are strongly recommended for pre-kindergarten students.

     

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    July 28, 2021

    We are excited to welcome students and employees back next week and get back to our core business of teaching and learning. This summer provided an opportunity for school and district leaders to reflect on last year’s challenges and successes and to turn those lessons into planned action for this school year. 

    We have prepared the Stronger Start 2021 Family Guide to share operational information with you as we continue operating schools amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that this guide is subject to change, and plans are flexible as new health data and guidance are received.

    As we have all come to know, COVID-19 is ever-evolving and rapidly changing. During the past two weeks, we have had to quickly make modifications and adjustments to our previous plans for the 2021-2022 school year. While we intended to start this new school year following issued guidance of only requiring masks on school buses due to a federal mandate, guidance has changed as we experience the fourth surge of COVID in our state due to the Delta variant.

    I’d like to highlight a few reasons that led to our much-deliberated decision to follow recommended guidance from health and government officials by shifting to a mask requirement for employees and 3rd-12th grade students for the time being.

    • School system employees quarantined due to being a close contact to someone positive with COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks.
    • Louisiana leads the nation in case growth rate.
    • Our parish’s positivity rate is amongst the highest in the state.
      • As we learned last year, when the positivity rate in the community increases, the number of employees needing to quarantine for up to 14 days increases. This negatively impacts our ability to provide high quality, in-person instruction.
    • The CDC has made an important, beneficial change to its quarantining guidance for students if wearing masks:
      • If an unvaccinated student is identified as a close contact but both the positive case and the close contact student were engaged in consistent and correct use of a well-fitting mask and were within 3 to 6 feet of each other, then the close contact student DOES NOT have to quarantine unless the student has symptoms.
      • Since 3rd-12th grade students will be wearing masks, this should reduce the number of students needing to quarantine due to being close contacts.

    The health and safety of our students and employees are our top priorities, and it was necessary to adopt new guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health, the governor, and CDC in order to place us in the best position to open schools and remain open while keeping employees and students protected as much as possible.

    While this mask requirement will remain in effect until further notice, we will reevaluate once this current surge subsides. These decisions are never easy but are made in the best interest of our students, employees, and families, and with the guidance of public health officials.

    Please know that we are doing everything we can to ensure our buildings are staffed, and we are able to open and keep our schools open in order to maximize in-person learning. That is our commitment to our students, families, and community, and we know it is in the best interest of all.

    As always, I appreciate your patience, understanding, and support as we begin a new school year together. We will continue to overcome challenges presented with compassion and resolute determination to ensure every student matters and every moment counts.

    I can’t wait to see our students and employees in August! Please stay safe and healthy.

    Dr. Ken Oertling
    Superintendent
    St. Charles Parish Public Schools

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    July 25, 2021

    As has been shared, the school system continues to follow guidance and recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Health and the governor's office relative to COVID-19.

    In light of new guidance issued and Louisiana's troubling COVID-19 trend of increased cases and hospitalizations due to the spread of the Delta variant among both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, the school system will implement an indoor mask requirement if social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    If 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained between individuals while indoors, whether vaccinated or not, masks must be worn while on school system properties.

    This mask requirement applies to all employees, visitors, and 3rd-12th grade students who may be in buildings, camps, or programs being held on a school system site. This mask requirement will remain in effect until further notice.

    Operational decisions for the 2021-2022 school year are still being discussed due to recent developments. We continue to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Health relative to our school operational plans for the upcoming school year. Families will be informed as these decisions are made and we will keep you updated as we continue preparations for the start of school in August.

    We continue to do our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As such, the school system has partnered with the Office of Public Health, the Louisiana National Guard, Access Health and Ochsner to bring vaccine opportunities to students, families, employees and community members at school-hosted back-to-school events. Visit our website for information on these upcoming vaccine opportunities taking place at several of our schools.

    Together, we will continue to overcome these challenges. Thank you for your continued grace, flexibility, adaptability, and understanding.

    I sincerely appreciate your continued support. Please stay safe and healthy.

    Dr. Ken Oertling
    Superintendent
    St. Charles Parish Public Schools