Frequently Asked Questions
How did you develop this Start Strong Jefferson plan?
As educators, we are not experts on the virus. That’s why we’ve continued to work side-by-side with local and state medical experts since before the first case of COVID-19 in Jefferson Parish. We developed our mitigation measures using guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local healthcare partners like Ochsner and Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Will this plan change throughout the year?
Our guidelines are based on the best information available today. We will continue to work with medical experts to ensure our mitigation measures prioritize the safety of students and employees and are appropriate for the current health situation. As the virus and medical recommendations evolve, we will adjust our plans accordingly so we can continue to safely educate children through what we all hope is one of the final chapters of this terrible pandemic.
Will there be cases of COVID-19 among students and employees?
Yes. As long as the virus is present in our community, we should expect cases among students, employees, and families. This was the case last school year and will be the case until we can defeat this virus. Just like last school year when we were able to safely provide in-person instruction, we’ve worked with medical professionals to develop a process to follow when we learn of positive cases among students and employees.
Can schools still offer before and after care?
Yes. Employees and students must wear face masks and adhere to physical distancing protocols. Younger students who are unable to maintain physical distance should maintain static groups.
Are assemblies and field trips allowed?
Yes. Assemblies are limited to maximum group sizes and with appropriate physical distancing in place. For younger students unable to maintain physical distance, maintain static groups. Attendees must wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status. Students and staff should wash hands before and after events. Field trips can occur if strictly following masking, cohorting, and transportation requirements. Outdoor field trip opportunities should be prioritized, if possible.
How will high school and middle school athletics be impacted?
Athletic activities are allowed to resume with the recommendations put forth in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Guidance for Opening Up High School Athletics and Activities. Outdoor and indoor spectator capacity for LHSAA-sanctioned athletics shall be set in accordance with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s guidelines developed in conjunction with the Office of the Governor and LDH at opensafely.la.gov. We are following the same LHSAA guidelines for our middle school athletics. The only change is the order of the sports. Soccer will be held in the first nine weeks, basketball in the second nine weeks, football and volleyball third nine weeks, and baseball and softball in the fourth nine weeks.
Do students and employees have to wear face masks?
Yes. Governor John Bel Edwards temporarily reinstated Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations threatened hospitals’ ability to serve communities. Louisiana’s temporary indoor statewide mask mandate will stay in place until at least September 1, but may be extended if necessary. This applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Do face masks have to be worn on school buses?
Yes. All drivers and passengers on the school bus must wear a face mask at all times per Presidential Executive Order No. 13998 for Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.
Do face masks have to be worn outdoors on school campuses?
All fully vaccinated and unvaccinated adults and students do not need to wear a face mask if they adhere to physical distancing requirements while outdoors. It is recommended that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a face mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other individuals who are not fully vaccinated.
How will hand washing be conducted this school year?
Students and staff should wash or sanitize hands upon arrival at school, before and after eating, before and after using outdoor play equipment, and before exiting the school facility. Students should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after changing any classroom. Teachers in the classroom should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer every time a new group of students enters. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol may be used in place of handwashing in some instances.
What daily cleaning efforts are taking place at my school?
High-touch surfaces should be cleaned with a commercially available cleaning solution, including EPA-approved disinfectants at least twice per day. This includes light switches, doors, benches, bannisters, and bathroom fixtures, surfaces and objects in libraries, labs, and other settings where “hands-on” materials and equipment are used. Student desks should be cleaned before and after each student’s use.
Are schools being supplied with cleaning supplies?
Yes. School employees will be provided an adequate amount of hygienic supplies according to the role and the number and age of students or adults served by that employee.The district is providing cleaning and sanitation supplies to all schools to ensure consistency of sanitization across the district.
Will social distancing be practiced by students and employees?
Yes. Adults should maintain six feet of physical distance from other adults and students. Students should maintain a physical distance of at least three feet from other students and six feet from adults in a classroom or indoor setting to the greatest extent possible.
Are group sizes being limited?
The maximum group size that may convene indoors in a single room should be determined by physical distancing requirements.
Will students with disabilities continue to receive specialized services?
Students with disabilities should continue to receive special education and related services in the least restrictive environment.
Are COVID-19 vaccines mandated for students or employees?
No. Vaccines are effective, safe, free, and widely available. JP Schools is working side-by-side with medical professionals to provide vaccine resources and opportunities to our employees and families.
Why are children under age 12 attending school in-person when a vaccine is not yet available for those students?
This time last year, there was no vaccine. Following our layered mitigation efforts, we were able to safely educate children in-person. Medical experts testified to the state board of education that when following mitigation efforts, Louisiana schools were one of the safest environments in the state for children. We also know that in-person instruction is best for our children academically and social-emotionally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Education all recommended school systems place a high priority on in-person instruction. The Louisiana Department of Education also released LEAP data showing that virtual students lagged behind their peers learning in person last school year.
Will vaccines be offered at my school?
Eligible students and staff may have opportunities, throughout the school year, to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at a JPS School Based Health Center (SBHC) or school site. We’re continuing to partner with local organizations to offer free vaccines to students and adults. We have advocated for vaccine access for our employees, students, and families since vaccines became available. Vaccinations remain an essential piece in keeping our schools and community safe.
Where can I find more information or schedule a vaccine appointment?
Please visit ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Students and employees who are sick should stay home (regardless of the illness).
What happens if a student or employee has symptoms or is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual?
Staff and families should notify school officials (e.g., the designated COVID-19 point of contact) if they (staff) or their child (families) become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case. Each school has established an area used to isolate staff and students with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, persistent cough, or shortness of breath). Students in the isolation area must be monitored at all times. The isolation area should be cleaned after it is occupied by a sick student or adult. Parents will be responsible for picking up their child from school if it is determined that the student has any signs of illness.
What happens when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 from a student or employee at a school?
Schools have planned for and expect that some students/staff will contract COVID-19 during the school year given the levels of COVID-19 in our communities. Students and staff who have COVID-19 should stay home and remain isolated until they have recovered and have been determined to no longer be infectious according to CDC’s end of isolation criteria. Students, families, and employees should notify the school or their immediate supervisor if they test positive for COVID-19.
Will COVID-19 cases be shared publicly?
Yes. Schools will communicate with employees and parents of students who were in close contact with the affected COVID-19 individual. All COVID-19 cases will be reported to the Louisiana Department of Health in accordance with the School Reporting and Data Sharing Order.
When does it become necessary to close classes or schools?
This will be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with medical experts. Closures of individual classes and/or schools may be necessary. Factors considered will be the level of community transmission, number of students/faculty affected, and risk of spread at the school.
How long does someone have to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact?
Close contacts who are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose in a single-dose vaccine) at the time of exposure and remain asymptomatic do not need to be quarantined.
Close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual must stay home for 10-14 days following exposure. If no symptoms develop during quarantine and no testing is done, the individual may quarantine for 10-14 days from last contact with a COVID-19 case. If quarantine is shortened, daily symptom monitoring and strict adherence to prevention measures including physical distancing, hand washing, and wearing face masks should continue until 14 days from last contact with a COVID-19 case. Close contacts who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 90 days and remain asymptomatic do not need to quarantine.
What are schools doing to educate children who are quarantined?
Should students need to be quarantined, they will bring devices home, access assignments in Google Classroom and conduct asynchronous learning for days out of school. Teachers will check assignments, provide feedback for assignments through Google Classroom and monitor student work.
Is technology available for students who have to continue their education at home?
Yes. The district has 1:1 device capacity for K-12 graders and will provide students with district computers in order to support instructional technology for teaching and learning. We continue to partner with Cox Communications so qualified families can easily access discounted, low-cost home internet. More information is available at jpschools.org/internetoffer.
Are visitors allowed in school buildings?
Any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations will be allowed but limited. Nonessential visitors or non-district employees must wear face masks and maintain a physical distance of six feet from each other, are subject to a temperature screening, and must sanitize their hands upon arrival.
What is an essential visitor?
Essential visitors are individuals who must enter schools in order to conduct visits in accordance with Louisiana law or policy. Essential visitors include, but are not limited to,individuals, who conduct CLASS observations, observe teacher candidates as part of the teacher preparation quality rating system, provide essential supports and services including, but not limited to, early intervention services, special education services, and mental health consultation.
Why are there delays or disruptions to bus transportation?
We know some of our families have faced delays or disruptions to bus transportation since school started. We know this is an inconvenience for our families. Across the state and nation, districts are facing a shortage of bus drivers. Unfortunately the impact of COVID-19 has left a shortage of bus drivers with our transportation vendor. We are working with our vendor to fill vacant bus driver positions as soon as possible while also dealing with the additional impact due to COVID-19 absences and quarantines. One temporary solution is adding additional school bus routes to buses which already have established routes. Due to increased demand on previously established bus routes, this may cause delays as the routes were not created to run with the added school routes. However, it will allow more of our students to be transported to school on a daily basis. If students are tardy because of a bus delay, the tardy will be excused. If the bus doesn’t run and families are unable to transport their child, please contact the school.