2021 has presented just as many challenges for schools as 2020. But with more students back in classrooms, and COVID requirements becoming more routine, we’re seeing a more positive outlook. There has been a wide variety of recent news for educators that we wanted to share in this blog post. 

COVID Updates

Children ages 5 and up are now eligible and recommended for COVID vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. This update allows an additional 28 million children in the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In New Orleans, nearly half of public charter schools have announced their decision to require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. With vaccination being the most effective way at reducing the infection rate of COVID-19, many communities have made it clear that they would like teachers and other staff to be fully vaccinated in order to interact with students. The roll out plan will vary for each school, and each school will need to communicate their process for ensuring vaccination compliance. 

The Louisiana Department of Education created a new “parent choice” option for schools to use in their COVID-19 quarantine process. Schools may choose to implement parent choice quarantine, which allows parents the option (but not the requirement) to quarantine their child after exposure to the virus. Parents will also be given the opportunity for their child to get a no-cost COVID test for their child at the same time.  

Local News

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) recently launched an initiative to encourage families to work together to boost childhood education. The BE ENGAGED® initiative uses the app PimsPoints to reward parents for engaging with their children’s education through activities like parent-teacher conferences or attending school open houses. These points can be exchanged for digital rewards or coupons at local businesses. 

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that eight Louisiana schools are winners in the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools awards. This award recognizes schools based on their academic excellence, or progress in closing achievement gaps between student subgroups. This award is a showcase of the hard work put in by educators, families, students and the community. The winning Louisiana schools are as follows:

  • Baton Rouge Magnet High School, East Baton Rouge Parish School System; 
  • Westdale Heights Academic Magnet, East Baton Rouge School System; 
  • Saint Paul’s School, Archdiocese of New Orleans; 
  • St. Scholastica Academy, Archdiocese of New Orleans; 
  • Gretna No. 2 Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson School District; 
  • Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson School District; 
  • Benjamin Franklin Magnet High School, Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education; 
  • Lake Forest Elementary Charter School, NOLA Public School District. 

Louisiana schools focused on virtual learning have proven to be successful for some students while unsuccessful in others. A report compiled by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana shares that Louisiana’s virtual learning is “spotty at best” and more needs to be done to ensure that students are successful. The PAR report recommends transparency on the costs of virtual learning, and an analysis of academic performance to identify which students are thriving, and which are struggling. 

National News

The recently passed infrastructure bill will aid students who are learning from home by increasing access to the internet. The bill includes nearly $65 billion to improve access to broadband and help the country respond to cyberattacks. Access to the internet is critical for children’s education and disproportionately impacts millions of minority, rural, and poor students.

New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education helps schools to alleviate recent transportation issues. Schools can now use federal COVID-19 relief money for bonuses to retain bus drivers, reimbursements for parents for costs incurred in sending students to school, among other strategies. Staff shortages in schools, particularly among bus drivers have created significant challenges this year that this guidance hopes to solve. 

Zoom, the provider of most schools’ digital learning video call platform has made some changes to their policies. These changes are to protect young students in their online learning environment, and could have negative consequences for schools if not followed properly. Learn more in our most recent blog post. 

Transcendent Law Group works with Charter schools across the gulf south to serve as general counsel, and to help schools maintain compliance with applicable laws, policies, and procedures. Contact us today by phone 504.459.4557 or email us at info@tlg.law for more information.