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Lincoln Prep announces reopening plan

Saturday, July 25, 2020
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The above graphic is a tentative schematic of what each building will hold on the new Lincoln Preparatory School campus. Located at the former Fred’s store in Grambling, this temporary campus will house Lincoln Prep operations for the next two years.

In addition to campus relocation, Lincoln Preparatory School on Thursday also unveiled its plan for holding school this fall in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The charter school will allow families to choose between three options for their students’ learning format: daily in-person class, full virtual learning from home, or a hybrid model with in-person learning two days per week and virtual learning the other three days.

Hybrid learning students will attend classes in person on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday.

Scheduled grade-by-grade orientation days over more than two weeks will begin on Aug. 17. Parents will be able to choose a learning format at orientation and may contact the school office to request a different option at any time if circumstances change.

“Our team felt that it was important to give parents more time to consider each option and decide what is best for their families,” Executive Director Gordan Ford said. “I understand how difficult this decision is for parents, especially since the overall situation in the state is not improving.”

Benchmark testing for all students will take place on Sept. 8-11, in order to gauge the effectiveness of the school’s virtual learning efforts in the spring and summer following the pandemicinduced school shutdown, as well as measuring the readiness levels of new incoming students. Then Sept. 14 will be the first full day for students.

All virtual learners will be assigned a device on which to perform schoolwork, purchased through federal CARES Act funds. Ford said students who don’t have reliable internet access at home can still choose virtual learning.

Those students will be issued two portable hard drives. Parents will swap one with the school every week, and faculty will download a week’s worth of lessons and schoolwork onto a drive for each student to use with their devices.

“They’ll be able to get the recordings of the teacher teaching the lesson, as well as all the assignments,” Ford said. “Most of our folks who don’t have internet access live in the rural areas where hotspots wouldn’t even work. So we wanted to have one solution that worked for everyone.”

Older students with internet access will be able to follow the same schedule as in-person students, taught by the same teachers and using the same curricula.

“It’ll be live and concurrent,” Ford said. “The students will be participating in the classroom with the kids who are in the school. For the younger ones who can’t do it on their and need parents to guide them, the lessons will be available on demand on Google Classroom.”

Meanwhile, for those who go to school in person, Lincoln Prep plans to physically distance students to the maximum extent possible in its new facility. Students will be distanced during all classes and meals.

“We don’t intend at any time this year to have kids sitting less than six feet apart,” Ford said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Louisiana Department of Health say that anyone who is in “close contact” with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should quarantine at home, and they define “close contact” as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or longer.

“We don’t expect any of our people to meet that definition,” Ford said. “So if, God forbid, we do get a case here, we would not necessarily have to shut everything down.”

The school will have sanitizing stations at each classroom and will follow state guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing classrooms and other areas. Daily temperature checks and symptom monitoring will be supervised by an on-site registered nurse provided by Primary Health Services Center.

Lincoln Prep will follow Board of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines concerning things like maximum group sizes and masks, which means a maximum of 25 in a group in Phase Two of the state’s reopening and 50 in Phase Three. Masks will be required for grades 3-12, with medical exceptions as needed, during all phases.

To help reduce the need for students to move throughout the many buildings on the new campus, Lincoln Prep will be rotating teachers to classrooms during each period, rather than having students move to new classrooms. Ford said some student movement will be required in high school, but for the most part students are on the same academic track.

Lincoln Prep served meals to students via pickup during the school closure and into the summer, and it will continue doing so this school year. Meals will be cooked at facilities on the Grambling State University campus, which is where virtual and hybrid students will pick them up. In-person students will eat meals on the new campus.

Ford said the pandemic situation has actually created new opportunities for strengthening education models.

“It’s making us rethink how we do education,” he said. “This’ll be the first time when, if a parent is trying to help a kid with their homework, the parent can actually go online and watch the teacher teach the lesson. We’ve never had that before, but it’s one of the things that has come out of the pandemic.”