State Education Superintendent Cade Brumley tells the House Education Committee that reopening schools next month during a pandemic will be a monumental task, but they’ve provided local school systems with guidance on how it can be done.

Louisiana’s top school board is deciding whether to issue a face-covering requirement for teachers and most students as schools reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley is proposing that all adults and students in grades 3 through 12 must wear some sort of mask while at school “to the greatest extent possible.”

Brumley says it all starts with good hygiene.

“First being washing hands often.  Second, wearing a face covering.  Third, practicing social distance at six feet to all extents possible,” said Brumley.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will determine Tuesday whether to adopt that proposal in its coronavirus regulations. Attorney General Jeff Landry says masks at school could be encouraged, but shouldn’t be required. A statewide mask mandate ordered by Gov. John Bel Edwards took effect Monday but isn’t certain to extend to school reopenings.

Meanwhile, students in lower grades will be with one teacher throughout the day and kids will not be allowed to sit together on a bus. Brumley says one positive coronavirus case will not shut down an entire school, but several cases could lead to a temporary closure.

“To all extents possible as can educate, they must educate, but we realize we must be nimble through this,” said Brumley.

Schools have been closed to in-classroom instruction since Governor Edwards shut down campuses last March. Brumley admits the long time away from the classroom has produced some level of learning loss.

“That’s one of the reasons I think that within the first short time that a school is open, we have to do these diagnostics.  We have to understand the minimum of where the children are at a minimum in reading and in math,” said Brumley.

(Story written by Kevin Barnhart/Louisiana Radio Network and Melinda Deslatte/AP)

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