School System Updates

  • January 7, 2022

    SCPPS Employees and Families,

    It has been great to see our students and employees back this week. As I previously mentioned, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout our country, state, and parish. With employees and students returning this week, our COVID Nurse Team, school nurses, schools, and departments are feeling the effects of this current surge. As a school system, we are continuously looking for ways to improve and better serve and support our employees and families. We know there is a delay in being able to return phone calls and emails sent to the COVID Nurse Team in a timely manner due to the high volume of calls and emails received. As such, we have worked this week to develop a new reporting tool in an effort to make the process more efficient for all.

    In place of calling and/or emailing the SCPPS COVID Nurse Team, a Google Survey has been created to streamline the process of gathering needed information. We ask that all utilize the Google Survey via the link found below as an alternative to calling or emailing the COVID Nurse Team. The Google Survey will save time and eliminate multiple phone calls and numerous emails so the COVID Nurse Team may provide guidance in a more timely manner. If you have contacted the COVID Nurse Team within the last two days and have not received a return call, please complete the new Google Survey.  

    The Google Survey only needs to be completed if individuals need to report any of the following:

    • Positive COVID test,
    • Close contact to a positive person, or
    • Symptomatic

    The survey can be accessed at: COVID Reporting Survey. It is also available on the district’s website (www.stcharles.k12.la.us) under the COVID-19 tab. 

    If you are unable to complete the Google Survey, you may call the COVID Nurse Team who will assist you over the phone with completing the survey.

    In addition, we recently shared the CDC’s updated quarantine and isolation guidance. I would like to provide additional information to answer some questions that have been presented to us during the past few days and make this information readily available to all.

    • Home Tests:
      • Home tests are accepted as confirmation of a positive test result.
      • Home tests are NOT accepted as confirmation of a negative test result.
    • Positive Tests:
      • The modified isolation time for someone positive is now five days with a return on day six if symptoms are improving and the individual is fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication. A test is not required to return.
    • Close Contact:
      • If a close contact is fully vaccinated and not eligible for a booster or fully vaccinated with the booster, the close contact is to monitor for symptoms while working or attending school, and a test is strongly recommended on day five.
      • If a close contact has not received a booster although eligible or is not vaccinated, the close contact must quarantine for five days. A test is strongly recommended on day 5 to return on day six but is not required.

    Individuals should only return to work or school on day 6 if they are not exhibiting symptoms and must wear a mask through day 10.

    Close contacts who develop symptoms while quarantined should notify the COVID Nurse Team for updated guidance and remain home.

    The following situations do not require quarantine (unless exhibiting symptoms):

    • Close contact who has tested positive in the past 90 days.
    • Close contact *students only*: the positive person and student are correctly masked and 3-6 feet distanced.
    • Close contact is fully vaccinated, including booster (if eligible).

    We encourage and ask that a test is done prior to returning, but we do recognize and know that testing availability is limited at this time. We want to be mindful and flexible of the current situation and meet the needs of our employees and families.

    The COVID Nurse Team phone lines (985-785-4072, 4073, and 4074) and the email address (CovidNurseTeam@stcharles.k12.la.us) will still remain active.

    Please remember that although we have navigated these past few years without any COVID-19 related school wide closures, we must continue to be prepared for possible changes if circumstances arise. We must all do our part to help minimize negative impacts to operations during this current surge. To support our efforts and as recommended by the Louisiana Department of Health, we strongly recommend all students and employees to wear masks indoors and outside when social distancing is not possible. Masking remains mandatory on all buses. Remember, proper student masking can also reduce or eliminate the need to quarantine or isolate. If there are identified outbreaks at schools or across our school system, we are prepared to require masking if necessary to prevent further spread.

    Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we operate schools through this current COVID surge. Please stay safe and healthy.

    Dr. Ken Oertling
    Superintendent
    St. Charles Parish Public Schools

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    January 1, 2022

    I would first like to wish all of our families and employees a happy new year as we look forward to welcoming our students and employees back to school on Monday. 

    As you are aware, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout our country, state, and parish. The safety of students and employees remains our top priority as well as keeping schools open. While we have navigated these past few years without any COVID-19 related school wide closures, we must continue to be prepared for possible changes if circumstances arise.  We must all do our part to help minimize negative impacts to operations during this current surge. To support our efforts and as recommended by the Louisiana Department of Health, we strongly recommend all students and employees to wear masks indoors and outside when social distancing is not possible. Masking remains mandatory on all buses. If there are identified outbreaks at schools or across our school system, we are prepared to require masking if necessary to prevent further spread.

    As a reminder, any person who is positive or identified as a close contact to COVID-19 should remain home and avoid social, community, and/or family gatherings to avoid exposing others. As reported by LDH and CDC, vaccination remains critically important in prevention against severe illness due to infection with the Omicron variant. Vaccination status will also factor into quarantine status.

    We have adopted the CDC’s recent changes to quarantine and isolation guidance.

    • Positive Test
      • The modified isolation time for someone positive is now five days with a return on day six.
    • Close Contact
      • If a close contact is fully vaccinated and not eligible for a booster or fully vaccinated with the booster, the close contact is to monitor for symptoms while working or attending school and test on day five.
      • If a close contact has not received a booster although eligible or is not vaccinated, the close contact must quarantine for five daystest on day five, and return on day six.

    All positive individuals or close contacts will be required to wear a mask through day 10 and are only to return if fever free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications and if any symptoms experienced have improved. Please email our COVID nurse team at CovidNurseTeam@stcharles.k12.la.us if you have any questions relative to these new guidelines.

    Thank you again for your continued patience, support, and understanding. While these continue to be challenging times, we have and will continue to overcome them with steadfast resolve so our students are provided the rich educational opportunities and experiences they deserve. We appreciate your assistance in helping us achieve this goal.

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    December 1, 2021

    COVID-19 QUARANTINE PROTOCOL UPDATE:

    The CDC has updated its guidance regarding quarantining of close contacts for students only.

    • If a fully vaccinated student is identified as a close contact, the fully vaccinated student DOES NOT need to quarantine, but should test on day 5 after exposure. The student should monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms develop, quarantine is needed.
    • 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, but should test on day 5 after exposure. The close contact student should monitor for symptoms through the 10-14 day window, and if any symptoms develop, then the student would be quarantined.
    • If a student has tested positive within 90 days and is identified as a close contact, the student does NOT need to quarantine. The student should monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms develop, quarantine is needed.

    HEAD START MASK UPDATE:

    Per federal law, masks are required for Head Start employees and students while on the school bus and while indoors on campus.

    Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

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    October 26, 2021

    We are aware of the Governor’s announcement today (October 26, 2021) lifting the statewide mask mandate with a clause for K-12 schools. We have and will continue to follow CDC Quarantine Guidance. Therefore, effective Wednesday, October 27, 2021, masks are NOT required for students and employees but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals.

    Per federal mandate, kindergarten through 12th grade students and employees are still required to wear masks on school buses. 

    In the event the community and/or school system’s positivity rate increases, guidance relative to mask mandate modifications will be considered and communicated. We will continue to monitor data when making decisions relative to the safety of our students and employees while following recommended guidance from public health officials. We continue to implement health and safety protocols and contact tracing as outlined in our Stronger Start 2021 Family Guide.

    COVID-19 QUARANTINE PROTOCOL:

    The CDC has updated its guidance regarding quarantining of close contacts for students only.

    • If a fully vaccinated student is identified as a close contact, the fully vaccinated student DOES NOT need to quarantine. The student should monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms develop, quarantine is needed.
    • 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. The close contact student should monitor for symptoms through the 10-14 day window, and if any symptoms develop, then the student would be quarantined.
    • If a student has tested positive within 90 days and is identified as a close contact, the student does NOT need to quarantine. The student should monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms develop, quarantine is needed.

    Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.


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    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