The good news is that the situation doesn’t seem to be serious yet, but the fact is coronavirus cases in Louisiana schools are starting to tick upward in some areas and schools and districts are responding. In most cases the outbreaks are isolated, but it is changing how instruction is being delivered in a number of schools.
To help citizens better understand the COVID teaching plans for individual school districts, CABL has developed a series of school district-level profiles which help reveal the instructional landscape we see across Louisiana at this time.
The profiles are designed to build on information collected from districts by the Louisiana Department of Education to provide a snapshot of the instructional methods districts have planned for in each phase of reopening and where they stand with access to technology.
What they reveal is that while the vast majority of school districts had plans to shift instruction to in-person learning in the current Phase 3 reopening scenario, some school districts are still relying, to some degree, on hybrid models and are working to increase access to technology and connectivity despite the fact that most students have returned to school.
Generally, more students have access to devices than ever before, with a number of districts moving ahead of the 1:1 device to student ratio that state officials have set as a goal. Still, many others lag well below that. In addition, confirmed connectivity to the Internet remains a problem in many areas despite district efforts to mitigate that lack of Internet access through mobile connections and in some cases paying for in-home Internet service.
With most students back in the classroom, technology access is not currently the crisis issue that it was back in the spring. Still, it remains an important piece of the state’s education infrastructure because of concerns about more widespread coronavirus outbreaks in the winter and worries that individual schools could become hot spots and be forced to close or severely limit in-person instruction.
The CABL profiles also include information on school enrollment, demographic information, and the most recent school performance information. The goal is to provide citizens a quick, one-page snapshot of each district’s plans to address education challenges while the pandemic continues. Later we hope to analyze the data to see which districts are struggling the most with technology issues and assess what that means in terms of equity issues and the need for additional resources.
In this extraordinary school year, it is critical that all of our children have the opportunity to learn and succeed, even when they face unprecedented challenges.