Jefferson Parish Public Schools Updates

Update on Reopening Plans: August 10, 2020

Jefferson Parish Public Schools Updates
Greater New Orleans Area Parishes (Source: WVUE)

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WVUE) -

Update on Reopening Plans: August 10, 2020

JP Schools Families,

With the start of the school year being pushed back to August 26 for students in grades 1-12, we want to fill you in on some additional details coming out of the announcement earlier today:

  • PK and K Student Start Date: PK and K students will start on August 27 and 28 (instead of August 17 and 18).
  • Grab and Go Meals:  Due to the date change of the start of school, meals will not be distributed for Virtual Jefferson students on Tuesday, August 11. Meal distribution for students enrolled in Virtual Jefferson will begin on Tuesday, August 25. 
  • Student Learning: We are working to provide some additional instructional tips and resources for students and families for the next two weeks. 
  • Updated Academic Calendar: We will have an updated academic calendar to share publicly later this week. The calendar will be balanced to maximize instructional minutes and honor the 183 teacher contract days. 

Thank you,

Jefferson Parish Schools

Jefferson Parish Schools - Dr. Gray Message: Welcome Back Family 2020

Message from August 10, 2020

Dear JP Schools Family:

Jefferson Parish Schools is dedicated to providing the education our students deserve to succeed in life and make our world a better place. While student learning is our top priority, our top responsibility is making school a safe environment for our students and employees. To make these decisions, we have relied on guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Louisiana Department of Health, and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). 

We can’t do this work alone, so we teamed up with Ochsner Hospital for Children to provide additional resources to support a healthy and safe return to school for students, teachers, and employees. During visits to schools, Jefferson Parish School Board members and district officials have spoken with educators, inquired about their concerns, and determined if there were other opportunities to leverage Ochsner’s resources. After these visits and various conversations with our families and employees, we worked with Ochsner to add an additional layer of safety for our students and employees. 

Today, we are excited to announce that Ochsner will make rapid 15 minute testing available for symptomatic Jefferson Parish teachers and employees, beginning August 26. Having rapid testing results available for our symptomatic teachers and employees allows us to quickly determine if an employee has COVID-19 and take the appropriate precautions.

Since COVID-19 rapid testing will not be available until August 26, we have decided to delay the opening of school until August 26. We remain diligent in our efforts to provide a safe environment, and this will allow us to add another layer of safety for our employees and students to ensure that we mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In the coming days, we will work through the details of this process.

Since we set out to reopen schools, safety has been our top responsibility. We’ve said many times that the situation is fluid and we would need to be flexible and make adjustments as we received new information and guidance. We understand that this will cause some disruptions to families who were ready to send their children back to school in-person this Wednesday. The decision was not made lightly, and, ultimately, we felt this delay was the best way to ensure a safe and successful return to school. We apologize for the short notice and the burden this may cause, but please know we are excited to see your child the week of August 26.

We will use these two weeks to continue to strengthen our plans and offer additional professional development for our teachers, particularly around teaching virtually. The better we can support our teachers, the better off our students will be. Additionally, we are working with our vendors as we continue to receive student technology and curriculum resources on a rolling basis. As they arrive, we will continue distributing these materials to our families.

We appreciate your support, patience and participation throughout this process, and we will continuously keep you informed. 

Together, we will do our best to provide a positive and safe educational environment for our students - one that benefits them socially, emotionally and academically. Our teachers, support staff, and leaders are key to this plan, and we are grateful for their commitment to our students during these unprecedented times. The work we’re doing now will ensure the best possible outcome for our students. I’m proud to do this work alongside you and know that together, we will be the champions our students deserve.

Dr. James Gray

The Start Strong Jefferson plan is guidance for our schools to open the 2020-2021 school year safely and successfully.

“It was developed after months of collaboration and thoughtful planning with school and district leaders. We utilized guidance from the LDOE, the Louisiana Department of Health, the CDC, and local public health officials. We used input from our families, educators, and community members via multiple survey,” the school system said.

During the development of Start Strong Jefferson, there were several critical priorities used in order to build a strong foundation for returning to school. The Start Strong Jefferson priorities are:

    1. Ensure a safe teaching and learning environment for our students and employees.
    2. Provide all students a high-quality education five days a week.
    3. Prioritize safe, in-person learning environments with a focus on our PK-5 students.
    4. Be prepared to transition to 100% virtual instruction if needed.
    5. Give families a choice about the best school instructional model for their children.
    6. Provide our families and employees with the necessary training and support.
    7. Communicate proactively and clearly with students, families, employees, and community.
    8. Our top responsibility is the safety of our students and employees, and our top priority is student learning. We know the 2020-2021 school year will be different. Given the fluid nature of this public health crisis, we may adjust our plan as we get new information. Read full Start Strong Jefferson plan

Start Strong Jefferson Resources

  • Virtual Jefferson Registration is closed
  • Overview: While our priority is to maximize safe, in-person opportunities for our students to engage with their leaders, teachers, and support staff, we know some families may be ready to choose an alternate virtual learning option for their child(ren) next school year. We are excited to announce Virtual Jefferson, our at-home virtual learning option that will support K-12th grade students throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual Jefferson will:
  • occur five days a week
  • engage students using online learning platforms
  • use high-quality, aligned instructional resources
  • be teacher-led and student-driven
  • offer flexibility for the time of day assignments are completed
  • allow students to conduct self-paced virtual learning
  • provide instruction in ELA, math, science, and social studies for K-8th grade students
  • provide instruction in courses required for graduation for 9-12th students
  • provide students with technology, if necessary
  • For a detailed overview of Virtual Jefferson, please see this document. Translations are available in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Arabic.
  • Low-Cost Internet with Cox Communications The start of a new school year is just around the corner. We are preparing for a number of reopening scenarios depending on the health pandemic. Our plans will be fluid and routinely adjusted. No matter which plan we move forward with, virtual learning is a possibility, and we will be ready to shift strictly to it should school closure become necessary during the school year. To make sure our families are prepared, we have partnered with Cox Communications so qualified families can fast track their applications for discounted home internet access should they need it. If you have at least one child attending a school in Jefferson Parish Schools, participate in one of these government subsidy programs: the National School Lunch Program, SNAP, TANF or Public Housing and have not had Cox internet services in the home within the last 90 days, your household could qualify to receive low-cost, home internet with wifi for only $9.95 per month. Find out if you qualify by visiting www.cox.com/c2c, or call 1-855-222-3252 today.
  • Click here for Spanish translation.
  • Click here for Vietnamese translation.
  • Click here for Arabic translation.
  • Academic Calendar Survey Results We conducted an academic calendar survey from July 6-11. Based on 10,305 responses, 68% of stakeholders want to push the first day of school for students back from August 6 to August 12. This would provide our educators with additional days before students report to implement additional safety guidelines and prepare for the start of the year. The School Board approved the proposed calendar on July 15.
  • Click here to see the full results of the academic calendar survey.
  • Click here to view the updated academic calendar.
  • Caregiver and Staff Survey Results We conducted stakeholder surveys in June to get more targeted information from our caregivers and staff.
  • Click here to see the full results of the caregiver and staff surveys.
  • End of Year Planning Survey Results We conducted an end of the year stakeholder planning survey in May to better understand the needs of students, families, staff, and community members. We have released the results and will use them to continue planning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. “We value input from our stakeholders and are committed to being transparent while preparing for next school year,” said Interim Superintendent and Chief Operations Officer Lale L. Geer. “The feedback we get from surveys will help us make better decisions as we move forward.” The survey yielded 9,443 stakeholders responses. Of those who responded, 8,538 (90%) were English speaking, 821 (8%) were Spanish speaking, 46 (1%) were Vietnamese speaking, and 38 (1%) were Arabic speaking. Stakeholders provided feedback about the support and resources provided during school closures, possible school instructional models and calendars, how to best prepare for the first day of school, the quality of school and district communications, and challenges they faced.
  • Click here to see the full results of the May stakeholder survey.
  • Key findings from the survey include stakeholders preferring face-to-face instruction with the understanding that the safety and health of students is first priority, regular and transparent communication, clear guidance and expectations about next year, and training and support for staff and families to help all students with virtual learning. The survey was available in multiple languages on jpschools.org from May 18-31. All responses were anonymous.
  • Our Previous Planning Latest on Reopening Plans Updated (7/13/2020) JP Schools Family, As we plan for a Start Strong Jefferson, our priorities are to ensure the safest teaching and learning environment for our students and staff and maximize safe, in-person opportunities. We are utilizing guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education, the Louisiana Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jefferson Parish officials. We are considering the diversity of our students’ needs. We are working to be responsible stewards of our resources. We are using input from our families, staff, and community members. We are preparing for multiple methods of teaching and learning given the fluid nature of this pandemic. As we get new information, we will adjust accordingly. In our efforts to provide ongoing updates with our stakeholders, this message contains important information:
  • Targeted Survey Results: In addition to our end-of-the-year stakeholder planning survey in May, we conducted more targeted surveys of staff and caregivers in June. We will use the results to continue planning for the start of the year. View the attached results or visit jpschools.org/stakeholdersurvey.
  • Academic Calendar Survey Results: We conducted an academic calendar survey last week. Based on 10,305 responses, 68% of stakeholders want to push the first day of school for students back from August 6 to August 12. This would provide our educators with additional days before students report to implement additional safety guidelines and prepare for the start of the year. The School Board will vote to approve the proposed calendar Wednesday, July 15. Additional details about the calendar survey results are in the attached presentation or viewable at jpschools.org/stakeholdersurvey.
  • Virtual Jefferson: As we’ve shared, we are considering three school instructional models for the start of the year: traditional, hybrid, and virtual. Families can register now for Virtual Jefferson, our at-home virtual learning option that will support K-12th grade students throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Based on the number of families who register for Virtual Jefferson, we will determine staffing, support, and logistics. No matter the school instructional model, our educators will have the support to be successful and prepared.
  • Virtual Jefferson Registration Extension: Based on feedback from our stakeholders, we decided to extend the registration window for Virtual Jefferson from July 16 to July 22. This will allow families to see the full Start Strong Jefferson plan on July 20 before making the best decision for their child(ren).
  • Key Start Strong Jefferson Timelines: We want to share some key timelines related to Start Strong Jefferson:
  • WhatWhenVirtual Jefferson registration opensJuly 10Jefferson School Board special meeting to vote on new proposed academic calendarJuly 15Publicly share Start Strong Jefferson plan with families, staff, and communityJuly 20Virtual Jefferson registration closesJuly 22 (extended from July 16 to July 22)First day for teachers and staffAugust 3First day for 1-12th grade studentsAugust 12 (pending JP School Board approval)First day for PK-K studentsAugust 17-18 (pending JP School Board approval)We know the 2020-2021 school year will be like none other before. There will be challenges. There will be successes. Given the fluid nature of this pandemic, there will be adjustments made to our plan as we get new information. When we work together, we can be nimble, creative, flexible, and reflective to meet the needs of our students. They need us, now more than ever. Jefferson Parish Schools Latest on JP Schools Reopening Plans for 2020-21 (Updated 7/2/2020) We will be ready to educate students on day one. That’s our commitment. At the July 1 school board meeting, we presented an initial reopening plan, Start Strong Jefferson. The plan is still in progress and will be further developed based on CDC guidance and input from stakeholders. Below are a few key points from the Start Strong Jefferson presentation at the July 1 school board meeting, which you can view here:
  • The safety of our students and staff is our top priority.
  • Our reopening plans will be fluid and routinely adjusted to reflect updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • We are considering three school instructional models: traditional, hybrid, and virtual.
  • We are working to maximize safe, in-person opportunities for our students to engage with their teachers.
  • While participation in learning was optional this spring, attendance and participation in learning will be mandatory come August.
  • We will be prepared to immediately shift to 100% at-home virtual instruction should school closure become necessary during the school year.
  • Families will have the option to choose a 100% at-home virtual learning model.
  • If we conduct virtual learning, synchronous (teacher-led) learning will occur via Google Meet and asynchronous (self-paced) learning will occur via Google Classroom. Support and professional development will occur to ensure teachers, staff, and families are supported with this learning.
  • Currently, students are scheduled to return August 6. However, in order to prepare for a safe and successful start, we may need to adjust the academic calendar. We will send a stakeholder survey next Monday, July 6 for you to weigh in on some academic calendar options.
  • Should we proceed with a virtual or hybrid school instructional model, we know some of our families may need support with technology. Chromebooks have been or will be ordered to achieve 1:1 device capacity for K-12 grades. We are working with our vendors to obtain the devices as close to the start of the school year as possible.
  • Based on feedback from our staff, we want to continue training and support so our teachers and leaders are prepared for the possibility of a hybrid or virtual model.
  • “Every student in our district will have access to a great education starting day one,” said Interim Superintendent and Chief Operations Officer Lale L. Geer. “We are working collaboratively with our school leaders to plan for a successful and safe start, and we will continue using input from our families, staff, and community stakeholders throughout this process.” Our plans are fluid and may change. We will continue to communicate with you throughout the summer, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure a Start Strong Jefferson.

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