BESE releases school COVID operational guidelines for upcoming 2021-22 year


FILE – In this May 18, 2021, file photo, kindergarten students wear masks and are separated by plexiglass during a math lesson at the Milton Elementary School, in Rye, N.Y. School districts across the United States are hiring additional teachers in anticipation of what will be one of the largest kindergarten classes ever as enrollment rebounds following the pandemic. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Officials from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) released guidance — but no mandates — regarding COVID-19 for the upcoming 2021-22 school year today.

BESE President Sandy Holloway issued the following statement regarding the updated guidance:

The information recently published by the Louisiana Department of Education is provided as a resource for local districts and schools to use in establishing best practices for COVID-19 mitigation in the coming school year. These guidelines, based on the recommendations of the Louisiana Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, are not state-issued requirements, but recommendations for local K-12 leadership to consider in adopting their own opening plans for 2021-2022.

BESE has issued no mandates and approved no policies related to masking or distancing in schools for the coming year. Decisions regarding masking and other prevention measures are best made by those closest to our students, and Louisiana’s local school systems have the authority to develop COVID-19 policies appropriate for their communities.

You can download and read the complete set of guidelines at the link below:

The 14-page guide gives schools guidance on reopening, addressing issues such as social distancing, quarantines, mask usage, hygiene, sanitation, and contact tracing. The guide does note that “All decisions about implementing school-based strategies (e.g. dismissals, event cancellations, other social distancing measures) will be made locally, in collaboration with the superintendent/principal and Regional Medical Director.

Among some of BESE’s recommendations are:

  • Schools should establish an area to isolate anyone with signs of being sick.
  • ‘High-touch’ surfaces should be cleaned at least twice per day, including bathrooms.
  • Unvaccinated adults visiting schools and students grades 3-12 should wear face coverings to “the greatest extent possible and practical within the local community context.”
  • School employees should be provided access to hygienic supplies, including disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Buses may operate at 100% capacity, though passengers should wear masks. Windows should also be kept open when it does not create a health or safety hazard. Seating charts should be created and enforced.
  • Schools should limit crowding at entry and exit points “[t]o the greatest extent possible…”
  • While outdoors, masks are not needed if people adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
  • Non-essential visitors, volunteers and activities involving external groups or organizations should be limited.

The guidelines are provisional and subject to change based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

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