Ouachita Parish School Board unveils virtual instruction program for new school year

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:47 PM CDT
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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - The Ouachita Parish School Board unveiled its reopening guidelines on Thursday.

Superintendent Dr. Don Coker said that the district developed its plans closely in line with the Louisiana Department of Education’s “Strong Start 2020″ program.

Guidelines will follow whatever phase the Governor has advised for the state.

“The purpose of these phases is to be prepared for whatever phase we’re in once school begins,” Coker said.

Each phase has differences in capacity for school buses and classrooms, as well as guidelines for distance learning.

Coker said the district currently has 14,500 Chrome Books and will be purchasing an additional 6,600 for students in the district.

While specifics of Phase 1, 2, and 3 will vary, the district is requiring students in grades 3-12 to wear cloth face masks; however, they will make exceptions for people with respiratory and other health issues.

In addition, the district will be doing temperature checks and symptom monitoring, maintaining classroom capacity, social distancing, and frequent handwashing.

For parents that are not comfortable having their students attend in-person classes, they can enroll in the district’s Virtual Instructional Program.

V.I.P. is an extension of the student’s home school for all grade levels. Students will maintain virtual communication with the instructor through Google Meet and will complete assignments in Google Classroom.

“Our goal is to keep them in our school system, and this is one way to do that. If they pass and do the assignments just like the kids that are at the brick and mortar school, they will promote on up to the next grade,” said Curtis Pate, who was a part of the V.I.P. Taskforce.

Pate also serves as the district’s Director of Elementary Schools, Curriculum, and Testing and Accountability.

Elementary school students are required to have a learning coach to help with lessons.

Pate said that students who choose to enroll in the program must stay in for at least nine weeks to maintain consistency.

Parents can register for the V.I.P. program on the school’s website from July 15-24.

To see the full breakdown of the phased reopening guidelines click here.

The school year starts on August 12.

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