St. Tammany Parish Public Schools is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of our students and staff. As a result, we would like to keep the public informed by providing this list of answers to frequently asked questions. This is an extremely fluid situation and this list will be updated as information becomes available.
(Updated August 6, 2020)
General | Students | Safety Protocols | Meals | Transportation | Technology | Virtual School
When will school start?
The start of the school year has been delayed until after Labor Day. Students will begin September 8-11 in a staggered approach with “Safe Start Days” where one-fourth of students will report to school each day based on the first letter of their last name. On September 14, students will begin their regular school schedule, whether it is distance learning, hybrid, or in-person at that time. All 56 schools including the STPPS Virtual School will follow this calendar. To view our updated 2020-2021 school year calendar, click here.
Will meet and greets or open houses be held?
Schools may hold virtual meet and greets, open houses and other events. In-person Meet and Greet events and open houses will follow group size limitations and safety protocols must be followed.
Will volunteers and visitors be allowed on school campuses?
Volunteers and non-essential visitors are not allowed in school buildings except under extenuating circumstances. This includes PTA members, parent volunteers and parents visiting their children for lunch, etc. Visitors and parents/caregivers are asked to contact the school with questions and concerns and to inquire about access to campus to check out their child, drop off medication, etc. Essential visitors are individuals who must enter schools to conduct visits in accordance with Louisiana law or policy. Essential visitors are defined as individuals who conduct CLASS® observations, observe teacher candidates as part of the teacher preparation quality rating system, and provide essential supports and services including, but not limited to, early intervention services, special education services, or mental health consultation.
Given the impact school closures have had on the well-being of students, what resources will be available this year to support their mental health?
Support and services will be provided to enhance social and emotional well-being of students and employees. Access to full time Mental Health Providers (MHPs) will continue at every school. Developmentally appropriate communication will be provided for students about wellness strategies and who to talk to about their feelings and concerns.
Where can I learn more about the STPPS Virtual School?
To learn more about the STPPS Virtual School, visit www.stpsb.org/virtual.
How do I register my child for the STPPS Virtual School or a traditional brick-and-mortar school?
Students enrolling in STPPS for the first time and students transferring to the Virtual School from another STPPS school can register online.
Have questions about COVID-19?
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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How many students will be in each classroom?
In phase 1, the maximum group size will not exceed 10, including the teacher/aides; in phase 2, the maximum group size will not exceed 25, including the teacher/aides; and in phase 3, the maximum group size will not exceed 50, including the teacher/aides. Teachers will adjust their classroom layout before school starts to make sure each classroom can accommodate this number of students safely.
Will my child’s temperature be taken?
Each child’s temperature will be taken and screening protocols will be followed when they arrive to their home room or first period. Students will not be screened upon entry to the building to prevent students from congregating and lines to form, and instead will report directly to their classroom. If a child normally eats breakfast before school, breakfast will be served in a Grab-and-Go style to be consumed in classrooms, outdoors or in other noncongregate settings, or in the cafeteria with appropriate partitions to maintain static groups and social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
Can students in the virtual school play sports or participate in extracurricular activities?
Limited extracurricular activities and clubs may be offered for students enrolled in the STPPS Virtual School. We are exploring options to best meet the needs of students. Due to safety reasons and requirements of the LHSAA, students will not be eligible to participate in sports at traditional brick-and-mortar schools while enrolled in the virtual school.
What will happen at recess?
Students will stay in their static classroom groups for recess and will be allowed to go outdoors and use playground equipment with proper social distancing practices to the greatest extent possible. If multiple classes or groups are at recess at the same time, each group will remain physically separate from the others.
Will absences resulting from COVID-19 reasons be excused?
The STPPS attendance policy follows Louisiana laws and policies. Absences for COVID-19 related reasons will be handled like other absences as outlined in the District Handbook for Students and Parents. Documentation will be required and make up work will be made available for students.
What learning model will be in place when school begins?
The decision is dependent on the phase the state is in at the time school begins. At this time, we anticipate beginning school with the state in phase 2. Under phase 2, the learning models would be traditional in-person learning for grades Pre K-5 and hybrid learning for grades 6-12. Any changes by the governor or guidelines in place at the time school begins could alter the plans. Families also have the choice to enroll their child in the STPPS Virtual School for full time online learning that is not dependent on the state phases.
What is the difference between the STPPS Virtual School and the distance learning model that has being considered based on the state’s phase at the time schools open?
The STPPS Virtual School is a full-time virtual school that students enroll in and receive instruction through an online learning platform. Students who are enrolled in a brick-and-mortar school may participate in the distance learning model or hybrid learning model as dictated by the phase the state is in. With distance learning, students receive daily distance instruction and support services online at home with a combination of real-time instruction with their teacher via Google Meet or Zoom and independent work via Google Classroom. The STPPS Virtual School will begin at the start of the school year and operation will not be dependent on state phases or learning model the rest of the district is using at a given time.
Do all students report to school in person on the September 8-11 staggered “Safe Start Days”?
At this time, the plan is for students to report to school in person on the safe start days. Students enrolled in the STPPS Virtual School do not have to attend in person those days but will attend a virtual orientation.
When do Pre K and Kindergarten students begin school?
At this time, the tentative dates Pre K and Kindergarten students will begin school is September 8-11 for “Safe Start Days” where one-fourth of students will report to school each day for an orientation and diagnostic testing. This will be based on the first letter of their last name. On September 14, students will begin their regular school schedule, whether it is distance learning, hybrid, or in-person at that time.
I don’t feel comfortable sending my child to school. What are my options?
The STPPS Virtual School is an option for parents who do not feel comfortable sending their child to school in person. Students are asked to remain enrolled in the STPPS Virtual School for one semester. Please carefully evaluate if virtual learning is a good fit for your child and family before enrolling.
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Are face shields allowed instead of masks?
Face shields are not allowed to take the place of face masks or coverings. Masks are required for adults and students in grades 3-12. Wearing a face shield in addition to a mask of face covering for additional protection is allowed.
What specific safety measures will be implemented to make buses safe for students and staff?
Bus capacity will be limited based on the phase the state is in at the time, passengers will be spaced to the maximum extent possible, drivers/aides and students in grades 3-12 will wear masks or face coverings, windows will be open to allow ventilation, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting will take place.
Are face masks going to be required when schools open?
The Louisiana Board of Education and Secondary Education approved minimum safety standards for the reopening of public schools that include face mask and covering requirements to the greatest extent possible for all adults and students in grades 3-12. When STPPS employees are at work in person and students attend school in person, we will be following the policy set forth by BESE.
Face coverings can be brought from home or disposable masks will be provided by the school. Student face masks and coverings can be patterned, have the school or STPPS logo, or can be monogrammed as long as they comply with the dress and personal grooming policy stated in the District Handbook for Students and Parents.
How will schools handle COVID-19 positive cases? Will parents of the students and families affected be notified?
In the event that a student or employee at a school is or is presumed to be positive for COVID-19, they will not be allowed on campus and we will contact health officials to determine any additional steps related to communication, quarantining practices, enhanced cleaning or disinfection processes, or school facility closure. State of Louisiana contact tracers will conduct contact tracing activities, including school-based contacts. Parents may be notified by the Office of Public Health if their child may have been exposed to the case of COVID-19, along with any next steps.
What will be the protocol for allowing children back to school if they or a family member test positive?
If a school becomes aware of a presumptive positive or positive case of COVID-19, the child should not attend school until determined to be non-infectious by their doctor and are able to provide the appropriate documentation. Please see the Response to COVID-19 Cases section in the 2020-2021 School Year Planning Guide.
Will you enforce rules for wearing face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks?
Yes. The safety protocols are set by policies and will be enforced like any other rules.
What happens when students don’t follow the safety rules? (Refuse to wash their hands, don’t cover their cough, don’t wear a face mask)
Expectations will be clearly communicated and school administrators will make every effort to enforce the policies and rules without disciplinary measures needing to be taken. Any disciplinary actions will follow the Uniform Discipline Code which can be found in the District Handbook for Students and Parents.
How will students and staff be able to social distance?
Protocols and signage will be put in place to ensure proper distancing in classrooms, hallways, entrances, and other locations around campus. The number of people allowed in a room will be reduced in accordance with safety guidelines to allow for appropriate social distancing. Younger students who are unable to maintain a physical distance from other students or adults will be assigned static groups. The hybrid schedule planned for grades 6-12 in phase 2 will reduce the number of students attending school in person in half, enabling more social distancing in classrooms and during transitions.
How can we keep children apart?
Classrooms and other facilities will be arranged to allow for appropriate social distancing. Physical barriers will be implemented where necessary, students will be trained on how to socially distance and signage and floor markers will be posted to guide students. Younger students who are unable to maintain a physical distance from other students or adults will be assigned static groups.
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Will breakfasts and lunches be provided for students?
Breakfast and lunch will be served Grab-and-Go style for traditional, hybrid, distance, and virtual learning settings.
In the traditional school setting and when students in the hybrid model attend school in person, grab-and-go meals will be consumed in classrooms, outdoors or in other noncongregate settings, or in the cafeteria in static groups or with appropriate social distancing to the greatest extent possible. Students are also allowed to bring food from home. Drive-thru pick up of meals will be available for students in the hybrid model on days they are not at school in person and for students in the distance learning model. Students attending the STPPS Virtual School will be provided a Grab-and-Go option for breakfast and lunch at an assigned school through drive-thru pick up.
Meals will only be free or reduced priced to those who have an approved free/reduced meal application on file for the current school year.
Where will students eat meals?
Each individual school will decide where students eat meals to ensure appropriate social distancing. Breakfast and lunch will be served Grab-and-Go style for traditional, hybrid, and distance learning settings. Meals may be consumed in classrooms, outdoors or in other noncongregate settings, or in the cafeteria with appropriate partitions to maintain static groups and social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
How do I apply for free and reduced meals?
To apply for free and reduced meals, apply online. This is the fastest method to have your child(ren) approved. If you cannot apply online, complete an application form and submit to the cafeteria manager or the School Food Service Department in the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex in Covington. Application forms are available at all schools and the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex in Covington.
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How will carlines work if more parents are transporting their children to school instead of taking buses?
Each school is determining the most efficient way to operate carlines. We understand the carlines may be longer and may take more time, but due to reduced school bus capacity we need as many parents/caregivers as possible to transport their children to enable schools to open for in-person instruction.
How will schools handle drop-off/pick-up?
Each school will determine the procedures that will best meet the needs of the school and campus layout. Protocols for social distancing will be implemented, signage and markers will be displayed, all individuals will wash or sanitize their hands before entering the school and adults, and students in grades 3-12 will wear masks or face coverings.
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Are Chromebooks available for all students?
Chromebooks were ordered in March for every child in STPPS, including those who attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools and the STPPS Virtual School. Due to international demand, they are on backorder. The district will prioritize distribution of Chromebooks for students learning through the hybrid or distance model and students enrolled in the STPPS Virtual School when they arrive.
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