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Strong Start/Transitioning back into our school buildings safely

Message from Superintendent Devillier

July 12, 2020 

Zachary Community School District Families,

When the 2019-2020 academic year began, no school district could have predicted the difficult decisions and challenges in providing ongoing education that we currently face.  The Louisiana Department of Education released the 2020 Strong Start School Reopening Guidelines.  We have reviewed this guidance, as well as the input received through stakeholder survey data.  Not all school district plans will look the same, as administrators must work around various barriers to ensure the safety of each school system, including but not limited to student counts, class size, course offerings, grade spans, and facility size.

The Zachary Community School Board met on Thursday, July 9, 2020, and voted to open the 2020-2021 school year using a Hybrid learning model during our transition back to school period.  This transition period will occur Monday, August 10, 2020, through Friday, September 4, 2020.  This transition period provides the most flexibility but does not carry the risk of putting all students back into our buildings too quickly.

The Zachary Community School District will be among some of the first school districts in the United States to bring students back into the buildings during this pandemic.  The utilization of the Hybrid learning model, during this transition time, will allow our district to evaluate and determine possible effects on the safety of our students and employees based on the current school sizes and configurations.  Without this transition, we could find ourselves having to offer only the 100% virtual learning model.  This gives us a better chance of working through the unknown effects of this pandemic on our instructional environments. We understand the need to balance safety, academics, and the needs of our families.  We believe this transition is needed to make informed decisions as we continue through this unchartered journey.  Our district wants to keep our community informed of any changes that will affect a safe, conducive learning environment.

During the board meeting, we also discussed the following surrounding our transition plan:  

  • Class sizes will be reduced to promote greater social distancing:
    • We are allowing our educators the opportunity to organize face-to-face instruction and make appropriate adjustments, around smaller groups of students.
    • We are allowing our schools the opportunity to successfully implement the two essential requirements of adhering to social distancing protocols in classrooms and on buses.
  •  Schools will utilize the Hybrid learning model during this transition period to be prepared for potential building closures:  
    • We are allowing our educators time to work more closely with students and families in the early days of this school year, to ensure each student has what he/she needs to be successful under the multiple models that may be implemented.
    • Should the health situation decline, restrictions may be tightened.   We are providing our educators, students, and families an opportunity to become familiar with the adjustments needed to be successful at both Hybrid and Virtual Learning.
  • The Zachary Community School District’s Grade Cluster: 
    • With nearly half of our students attending a “new” school each year, this also allows our staff and students the opportunity to get accustomed to “new” school procedures, especially with the additional monitoring required due to the pandemic.

We are required to submit the Zachary Community School District’s Reopening plan to the Louisiana Department of Education this month. However, during our school board meeting, it was discussed and understood that our plan could be modified based on: 

  • Additional/clarification of current state and federal guidance;
  • Building level safety data collected during this transition time; and/or
  • Other recommendations

The Zachary School Board will continue to receive appropriate updates to determine if modification is needed for our plan.  

Superintendent Devillier

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