Livingston Schools to Add More Students to Daily On-Campus Learning Schedule
LIVINGSTON, LA – Livingston Parish Public Schools will increase those students who will be eligible for five-day-a-week learning on their school campuses beginning next week, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy, who noted that since the beginning of school, on Aug. 7, the district would consider adding grades levels to the traditional learning schedule in order to increase face-to-face instruction throughout the parish.
Currently, the district’s Phase 2 school attendance plan allows for students in pre-Kindergarten to second grade to attend classes five days per week at their assigned school campuses. The district will open that same schedule up to students in grades 3-5 next week -- beginning Wednesday (Sept. 2) for third graders, Thursday (Sept. 3) for fourth graders and Friday (Sept. 4) for fifth graders.
“We have always believed that face-to-face instruction is the strongest, best learning environment for our students. However, because of state guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic, as related to distancing and capacity restrictions, we’ve had to alter our preferred format to include virtual-only and hybrid schedules for a large segment of our population. But after much restructuring and reconfiguring by our staff, we believe we can feasibly increase the number of students scheduled to attend school on their campuses each day,” Murphy said.
“Adding grades 3 to 5 in our daily on-campus routines will not happen without some complications and transitioning,” he said, “particularly as it relates to adding students to our busses and classrooms. But we do believe this is the best course of action, and we are committed to working through this adjustment to have it be successful.”
Under the district’s current Phase 2 Plan, students in pre-K to 2nd grade, as well as students needing special assistance, are following the traditional model of instruction by attending school at their home campuses five days per week. Students in 3rd to 12th grade are on a hybrid schedule that includes a blend of face-to-face instruction at their home campuses and distance learning from their homes or remote locations. Students are divided evenly into an “A” group or “B” group, with one group attending class on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, and the other group attending class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday. A third group – Group “C” – includes those students who are receiving 100 percent virtual instruction due to concerns related to COVID-19.
The district’s Phase 2 Plan is set to remain in effect while the state is under a Phase 2 recovery order by the governor. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ current Phase 2 order was set to expire today, however, he signed an order yesterday extending his Phase 2 for another two weeks, until Sept. 11.
Murphy noted that Livingston Parish Public Schools, which has a current enrollment of 26,123 students, has nearly 90 percent of its students opting for a learning structure that includes on-campus options. This percent is one of the largest in the Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan Area, as other neighboring districts and private systems are reporting as much as 20 to 30 percent of their student body opting for virtual-only instruction.
“We know that the high demand is indicative of our community’s confidence in the safe environments we have created at our campuses, as well as their value and appreciation for face-to-face learning,” Murphy said.
Under the revised Phase 2 Plan, students in grades 3-5 will join those students receiving the traditional model of instruction on their home campuses over a three-day phase-in period. All three grades will be transitioned to the schedule by next Friday, Sept. 4.
Murphy said school leaders are asking parents of those students in grades 3 to 5 who can provide personal transportation to do so to assist the district in managing transportation concerns, while under phase 2 guidelines.
“One of the biggest constraints we have in getting more students back on our campuses is the capacity limitations we have with our busses,” Murphy said. “We can shift space on our campuses, but the seating on our busses is fixed. The more assistance we can have from our parents, the better we can work around this problem.”
“I must thank our teachers, principals and central administrative staff for staying the course over these first days of the new school year to find solutions to what has seemed like an endless list of concerns and obstacles,” Murphy said. “We know this is a difficult time for everyone involved – our students, our parents and our employees – but we are most appreciative of those who have been patient to work with us to make our system better. We are not out of the woods by any means, but we’re making significant progress.”