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Schools to return to alternating schedule

Grades 7-12 temporarily going back to A/B format
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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Beginning next week, students in grades 7-12 in Lincoln Parish public schools will return to the alternating A/B schedule used in the first nine weeks of the school year, the district announced Monday.

The announcement came less than a week after Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana will be moving back into Phase 2 of coronavirus restrictions. The governor is allowing individual school districts to decide what, if any, changes should be made in their instruction format.

But officials said the move back to the A/B structure is less in reaction to the statewide changes and more a response to the growing substitute shortage in parish schools.

“This is to help out with the sub situation,” Superintendent Mike Milstead said.

He said on Monday, for example, schools across the parish were missing a total of 50 teachers who required substitutes, and there were only enough subs to fill about half of those slots.

That doesn’t mean classrooms were missing teachers, but the void is being filled by temporary solutions such as full-time teachers sacrificing their planning periods to substitute for coworkers.

“But we don’t feel like that’s fair to teachers,” Milstead said.

It also doesn’t mean 50 teachers had CO-VID-19. That number reflects all absences, including positive cases, people in quarantine as close contacts to a positive case, and non-COVID circumstances.

The A/B schedule will run from Monday to Dec. 18 and after the holiday break from Jan. 4-15. This format splits students in an “A” group and a “B” group based on grade and has them show up to school in person every other day and learn virtually from home on the days in between.

Grades 7-12 operated this way for the first nine-week grading period of this school year before the district switched back to everyday, in-person instruction. Students enrolled in the fully virtual program will remain at home every day as previously.

This system helps schools with a substitute shortage by allowing those teachers who only have virtual students on a given day to cover for teachers with on-campus classes, cutting down on the number of subs needed.

Milstead said the district expects that by two weeks after the holiday break, schools will be able to return to their previous schedules.

“We’ll play it by ear, but we hope to be back to normal after that,” he said.

At Choudrant High School and Simsboro School, grades 7, 9 and 11 will be the “A” group and grades 8, 10 and 12 the “B.” At Ruston High School, grades 9-10 will be “A” and grades 11-12 “B.”

And at Ruston Junior High School, grade 7 will be “A” and grade 8 will be “B.”

The Lincoln Parish School Board also has its regular session at 6 p.–m. today at the STEM Center. It faces a short agenda in what could be Milstead’s last meeting as superintendent before handing the reins to Superintendent-elect Ricky Durrett in January.