BESE revises COVID-19 K-12 physical distancing requirements

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In response to updated guidance issued recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding COVID-19 related distancing recommendations for schools, BESE President Sandy Holloway has approved revisions to the state’s minimum COVID-19 health and safety standards for Louisiana school facilities.

In the Thursday, March 25, 2021, print edition

Effective immediately, the revisions to the standards remove the specific physical distancing requirement of six feet, and insert the provision that distancing requirements shall be in accordance with current Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) guidelines, as informed by the CDC. On March 19, the CDC updated its K-12 school guidance to reflect the latest science on physical distance between students in classrooms.

The CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least three feet in classroom settings. “Louisiana’s education leaders are committed to ensuring a safe and productive learning environment as we move incrementally toward the restoration of normal classroom and school operations,” said Holloway. “As research and information related to COVID-19 mitigation continues to evolve, we will continue working to align policies with the latest recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Health and CDC as necessary and appropriate.”

The policy passed by BESE in July 2020 that established the statewide standards included a provision that appropriate revisions may be made based on updated recommendations issued by the CDC or the LDH.

Holloway’s approval of the revisions, by emergency rule under interim authority, is scheduled to be ratified by the full Board at its next regular meeting April 21. The emergency rule may be viewed here. BESE is the administrative policymaking body for elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana.

The Board sets key education initiatives and works to outline an education agenda to achieve continuous improvement of public education.