Schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge are scheduled to open next week.
According to a statement from the diocese, the opening dates for the Catholic schools in Tangipahoa Parish are
Aug. 5 — Holy Ghost Catholic School in Hammond
Aug 6 — St. Thomas Aquinas High in Hammond and St. Joseph School in Ponchatoula
Aug. 10— Mater Dolorosa School in Independence.
Superintendent Melanie B. Palmisano said protocols are being tailored to each school’s individual needs.
There is no “one size fits all” protocol, though all schools must follow guidelines set by the Louisiana Department of Education. These include the maximum number of people in a classroom to assure proper space for social distancing.
School start and end times will be determined by each school, with an attempt to keep those times as normal as possible. Schools may have to stagger intake times to help parents with carpool traffic.
Protocols for students entering school buildings will vary, but all schools will have a method verifying each student is entering a healthy space. Parents might have to log into the school’s app in the morning and answer a series of health-related questions. Some schools could possibly have daily temperature checks of all students.
Recess will also have a different look as students might not be able to play on playground equipment or engage in contact sports. Lunches will be delivered to the classroom so that students can eat at their desks or lunches will be grab-and-go, with students either returning to the class to eat or perhaps eating outside picnic style, depending on the weather.
"Some Louisiana public school systems are offering online class options, but Catholic schools in our diocese will partner directly with parents on such requests," Palmisano said. "It is important for students to have social interaction at school for their holistic development, so the ideal is for students to return to classrooms and develop relationships with teachers and their peers. However, if a need arises that warrants online learning support, Catholic schools are ready to consider that as a solution for individual situations."