An Update on COVID-19 for May 21, 2020

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,

May 21, 2020 

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,
Our employees are back in our school buildings this week to close out the 2019-20 school year. We have enjoyed watching the many ways our schools have made milestone celebrations like 5th-grade and 8th-grade promotions and senior moments special in this unusual situation. Whether it is virtual celebrations and videos or drive-thru parades, we are very grateful to everyone for making these moments special memories for students and their families. Additionally, we want to recognize and thank our high schools for their efforts to organize safe and honorable graduation events.

As a follow-up to the last message, please be reminded that The Three O'Clock Project will continue to distribute meals through June 30, 2020 (excluding holidays). However, starting on June 1st, the USDA is requiring that children accompany adults to pick up meals, or parents must complete a form with the student's name, address, and phone number. Click here to download the form.

Additionally, some parents have experienced difficulty in applying for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) programThere have been technical difficulties with the application on a smartphone. It is recommended parents complete the application on a computer. Additionally, the student's name must be spelled exactly the same as it was spelled upon school registration and listed in PowerSchool. If you have problems with the application, please submit an electronic ticket at AskLDOE. The AskLDOE electronic ticket system allows the applicant to create a personalized message. The applicant should select P-EBT in the subject area drop-down menu in order for the ticket to be directly provided to a staff member with experience in the subject area selected.

As we announced on May 1st, we are planning to hold traditional commencement ceremonies at our high school stadiums for the Class of 2020 next week (May 27, 28 & 29). We will be able to do this with the proper social distancing of graduates (seated six feet apart on the field), wearing of masks until seated, and limited guest attendance. In addition, EATEL plans to live stream all four ceremonies so that friends and families can watch the event in the comfort and safety of their homes.

It will be important for all to adhere to safety protocols for these events:
  • We will require graduates to wear masks and encourage guests to also wear masks, especially when walking from your vehicle until you are comfortably seated in the stadium and at an appropriate distance from others.
  • Everyone needs to be mindful of and respect the necessity of maintaining proper distancing (six feet).
  • Water fountains will be turned off, so guests may want to bring a bottle of water. No ice chests allowed.
  • Restrooms will be monitored to limit the number of occupants at a time.
  • There will be an organized dismissal of graduates and the audience at the end of the ceremony. We will ask everyone to move to their cars when it is over with no lingering around to socialize. 
  • As much as possible, please remain distanced when moving from your vehicle to the stadium and then back to your vehicle.
  • As mentioned previously, these events will not include the usual social connection of hugs, handshakes, and arm-in-arm alma maters, but we are grateful to be able to develop concepts that publicly honor the work of our graduates without compromising safety guidelines.
  • In the event of lightning detected in the area, our stadium sirens will go off. Everyone will need to return to their vehicles until the all-clear is given. This is an important safety precaution. 
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.  Schools will be providing additional details for each celebration. Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the expectations that will make these events both memorable and safe.

Also, please know we are monitoring weather forecasts for late next week. The typical rain alternative sites for our graduation ceremonies are Lamar Dixon for Dutchtown High, East Ascension High, and St. Amant High, as well as the DHS gymnasium for Donaldsonville High. However, Louisiana's current Phase I guidelines as interpreted to us by the State Fire Marshall will not allow us to have guest attendance at ceremonies held at Lamar Dixon or the DHS gymnasium as they are considered indoor facilities. EATEL still plans to live stream traditional ceremonies from Lamar Dixon or the DHS gymnasium, if a decision is made to move any of the ceremonies. We want to express our gratitude to the State Fire Marshall's Office as well as so many state and local officials who have assisted us to ensure that our plans comply with the most recent Executive Order, which was released last Thursday. We are excited to be able to offer an event for our students while remaining confident that our efforts remain in the interest of public health.

We know holding ceremonies without any guest attendance is not ideal and are hopeful the weather will allow us to continue plans at the four stadiums. However, please know school and district leaders have been working hard to identify inclement weather plans that best fit each school community. Schools will communicate early next week about their alternative plans should weather force a location change.

Please continue to be patient and understanding as we plan to recognize the Class of 2020 in meaningful and safe ways.
David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools