BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana schools are among states leading the way in providing in-person instruction to students. The American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker currently ranks Louisiana No. 7 in the nation for the highest number of students participating in face-to-face learning.
The Return to Learn Tracker (R2L) is a tool developed by the American Enterprise Institute's Education Policy Studies department, in partnership with The College Crisis Initiative (C2i) of Davidson College, that captures how U.S. public school districts' instructional models change during the coronavirus pandemic. The tracker conducts original data collection examining which schools are offering fully in-person, hybrid and fully remote instruction and analyzes instructional status across various district and county demographics. It categorizes instructional models for about 8,500 school districts nationwide and regularly monitors how each district changes between categories.
“Louisiana schools have been at the forefront of safely providing in-person instruction this entire school year,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “National reports are starting to highlight what we’ve known for some time in Louisiana; daily face-to-face instruction can be safe and effective when following strong mitigation efforts like we have in our state.”
Following the Louisiana Department of Education’s release of school reopening guidance and BESE’s passage of minimum health standards last summer, all school systems developed comprehensive plans that operationalize health guidelines and allow a quick pivot when the presence of the virus changes in their community. Not only did all Louisiana school systems reopen in the fall, but the LDOE’s School Reopening Dashboard shows that 70 percent of Louisiana students are benefitting from daily in-person instruction. The LDOE provided technical assistance for school systems statewide as they developed reopening plans based on CDC guidance and Louisiana’s phased reopening guidance.
In addition to school reopening guidance, the Department released specific resources for areas like early childhood, students with disabilities and English Learners. Along with developing virtual instruction guides for educators and families, LDOE provided virtual instruction workshops to over 2,600 educators. This is in addition to the support offered by school systems. The LDOE also held weekly office hours calls and system leader roundtables to keep teachers and leaders updated on the latest developments nationwide and in Louisiana.
Dr. Brumley advocated for K-12 educators and support staff as well as early childcare workers to receive priority access to the vaccine. As priority access was granted, the Department worked with the Louisiana Department of Health to share vaccine guidance with school systems. The Department also partnered with state and federal officials to equip school systems with PPE including 1.2 million face coverings and 83,316 rapid testing kits.
“The success of in-person instruction in our state is due to the heroic efforts of our teachers and leaders,” said Dr. Brumley. “Despite the challenges the past year have presented in Louisiana, our educators continue to serve the needs of our children and families.”