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Franklin Parish schools will open to students Aug. 12 although Superintendent John Gullett advised dates could change due to the severity or mildness of future COVID-19 case numbers.

“We are planning to start back ‘brick and mortar’ with our regular schedule at this time,” Gullett said. “This all depends on what Gov. John Bel Edwards does. Its a fluid situation.”

Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released guidelines June 25 for how schools could reopen, according to a LDOE press release. Each school district will decide how schools will operate, and the guidelines offer “best practices that encourage districts to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios.”

Possible reopening scenarios include: traditional, hybrid or distance / remote learning.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Cade Brumley, Louisiana superintendent of education. “We know there are vast differences between schools, systems and communities across the state.”

Gullett said Franklin Parish school officials will follow guidelines set before them.

“We’re going to do what they tell us to do and make it work for Franklin Parish,” Gullett said.

If schools begin while Louisiana is in Phase 1, the maximum group size will be 10, including adults, according to guidelines. If in Phase 2, 25 students and adults may be grouped together. If Louisiana is in Phase 3 when schools open, maximum group number will be 50.

Younger students are asked to maintain status groups, understanding individuals may come into close contact and may not be wearing face coverings.

Older students will be asked to maintain physical distances of six feet in classrooms and indoor settings.

With transportation, guidelines suggested 25 percent capacity while Louisiana is under Phase 1. School bus passengers ride one per seat with

every other seat empty although members of the same household may sit in the same seat or adjacent seats.

Under Phase 2, transportation vehicles may be at 50 percent capacity, and under Phase 3 vehicles may climb to 75 percent capacity.

Guidelines developed by LDOE also offered “physical standards” for school facilities. Groups should convene indoors in rooms enclosed by walls or partitions, and high-touch surfaces should be cleaned before and after each group’s use.

While outside, groups should be separated but a physical barrier is not required. School officials should also limit crowding at entry and exit points.

Under the guidelines, LDOE officials stressed the importance of students and adults wearing face masks “to the maximum extent possible” when schools reopen.

“Face coverings should be worn in all areas of the school,” according to guidelines issued by LDOE.

Coverings included classrooms.

“Most important, face coverings should be worn during arrival, dismissal and any other transition within the school building,” according to the guidelines.

LDOE officials also said some students are sure to contract the virus and when that occurs, schools may need to close for up to five days.

“Prepare plans for school closures (three to five days) if the school environment is determined to be a source of ongoing COVID-19 spread,” according to the guidelines.

Aside from ill students being sent home, those who were in close contact with the infected child — less than six feet away for more than 15 minutes — should also stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days, according to the guidelines.

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