Statement from Louisiana Federation of Teachers Regarding LDOE Policy Change for Students Exposed to COVID-19

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Following yesterday’s release of a new policy from the Louisiana Department of Education students, parents and LFT members across the state have expressed confusion and concern about safety in their schools. The new policy could eliminate the need for students to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 before returning to school. While COVID-19 and the Delta variant continue to rapidly spread across the state, schools have remained a safer space due to increased COVID-19 protocols. Thus far, we have managed to keep the spread of COVID-19 in schools relatively low, and this has helped to protect students, staff and their families, which in turn has ensured children continue to receive an education. 

If school districts decide to adopt this new recommendation from the LDOE then we will undoubtedly see increased spread of COVID-19 in schools and more children and staff sick, which will then spread through the entire community. 

We all want to see children in school, learning in person. It’s devastating to see the impact that this ongoing pandemic has had to their lives and their education, but we cannot prioritize test scores over the health and well-being of children, especially when there are better solutions available. We have to rise above the challenge and find ways to keep children learning while simultaneously keeping them safe. This is what teachers and school employees have been doing for the last 18 month, throughout the pandemic and in the aftermath of multiple natural disasters. It is incumbent on the state and school districts to also rise to the challenge. 

We have long known that extensive standardized tests do not fully evaluate what children are learning or how they understand concepts they’ve studied. It is important for parents to have factual information when considering different educational choices for their children, but now more than ever, it is clear that the tests we are using do not serve our students or their education. If the state is going to invest instructional time and tax-payer dollars in high-stakes testing, it should be responsive to students experiences and education; it should not be more important than their overall education, their wellbeing, or their safety. 

We encourage Local school districts to continue to follow the science and utilize proven practices that have helped to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Medical professionals at the Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control continue to issue recommendations based on the most up to date scientific data about how to keep schools safe while staff work to provide the best education possible. This is the guidance that school districts should use as they continue to deal with the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. The physical, emotional, and mental health of students and staff should be the top priority for LDOE, BESE, and local school districts. Politics has no place in our classrooms.