LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board voted to send all in-person students back to five days a week. That’s a change to the previous alternating schedule for 7th through 12th grade students put in place due to COVID concerns.
The plan to return Calcasieu students to five days a week in person was passed with 13 yes votes and one abstain, voting to bring kids back on November 30th.
Several other school districts in Louisiana have already returned to four or five days a week for in-person students.
According to Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus, there has been about 250 employees and 500 students quarantined, either due to a positive COVID test or direct contact, since Hurricane Delta.
Dr. Jay Marque, with Lake Charles Urgent Care, says he is concerned this move might cause further Coronavirus spread.
“My concern is that with the positivity rate now so high, I have the concern that they won’t stay open for long,” Dr. Marque said. "We know right now there’s a high percentage of positive COVID cases in the area. I’d like to see it closer to 5 percent to 10 percent before we start talking about putting kids back in school every day. I think the school district’s doing everything they can. I’m very sympathetic, and I’m really happy to have my son back in school, but I definitely think there’s a limit on how many people you can put into a facility without seeing a rapid spread in cases.”
There was some disagreement withing the school board about when students should return to a regular five day schedule.
Those who want students to return cited concern that students are not getting a quality education with the alternating schedule.
“We need to get our kids back in school five days a week,” said Damon Hardesty, CPSB member for District 9.
"I have absolute confidence, 100 percent, that I am well representing my constituents in saying we’ve got to get these kids back in school five days a week,” said Eric Tarver, CPSB member for District 8.
Those who disagreed voiced concern of putting more people at risk for catching COVID.
“What’s going to happen is the teachers are going to come down with it,” said Russell Castille, CPSB member for District 12. "If we have teachers out of the classroom, then we have no way to teach whether we go back five days or not.”
"If we’re putting more students together, that means we are putting teacher, faculty, staff, other students, families at even more risk,” said Desmond Wallace, CPSB member for District 14.
Many teachers also made their voices heard at the meeting.
“If you go back five days a week face to face, I cannot be the best teacher I want to be to all my students,” said Kelli Cooley, a Barbe High School teacher. “Your high school teachers are teaching Odysseyware online virtual students and face-to-face students.”
This change will not affect those students who opted for virtual learning this year.
The school board also voted to add several days of instruction to the school year to make up for lost time.