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Return to Campus

As COVID-19 continues to present disruptions, we continue to monitor state and federal health guidelines, currently available scientific information, the institution’s priorities and capabilities, and stakeholder opinions and interests as we successfully have embarked on a “cohort” reopening of LSMSA for the Spring 2021 semester.

While we recognize that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the United States and in Louisiana, it is also the case that treatments are more effective, and that Louisiana remains in an Enhanced Phase 2.  

We stress, however, that if the State were to revert back to Phase 2 or Phase 1, we may not be able to continue to follow our Return to Campus plan due to governmental restrictions.  At any point during Spring 2021, should the State make the decision to leave Enhanced Phase 2 and return to either Phase 2 or Phase 1, instruction and support will transition back to a virtual learning experience.

We know that we are better when we are together. We are all enjoying the students’ return to campus this spring in the Blue and Gold cohorts.  So far we all continue to be healthy and well, and we are working together to develop our minds, support our friends, prioritize our wellness, and strengthen our community.


Guiding Principles

The safety of our community is, at all times, our primary concern. A focus on the health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff drives all planning and decision-making.

A safe return will require our diligent cooperation to make significant changes to our traditional methods and practices. We must all commit to making adjustments and taking precautions to assure that we are protecting ourselves and those around us.

Spring 2021 will be constructed on a low-density, low-residency model both in the classrooms and in the residence halls.  To that end, we will build out learning communities and bring students back to campus in separate sessions based on their academic schedules.  This model will allow for students to live in private rooms and will allow for social distancing in classrooms.

All students who opt to return to campus will be assigned to either Blue Session or Gold Session, based on their spring class schedules. The entire senior class will be on-campus for Senior Eagle Session.

We cannot accommodate specific requests from individual students for which session they attend, as the assignment of learning communities will be based entirely on course schedules and classroom capacities.

Each family will have the opportunity to opt for a fully online semester in the Spring.  Additionally, we have contingencies in place to continue instruction fully online should the need to transition to virtual learning as an entire community arise.
Blue Session moves in January 16th/17th and moves out February 13th/14th.

Gold Session moves in February 27th/28th and moves out March 27th/28th.

Senior Eagle Session moves in April 10th/11th and moves out May14th/15th.

Academic Options

List of 2 items.

  • Classroom Experience

    The Spring ’21, in person classroom experience is outlined below, given CDC recommendations and BESE/LDoE guidance:
    • Physical distancing in the classroom will be accomplished by reducing class sizes.  Due to limitations on our physical classroom sizes, we are committed to creating learning communities within class sections – allowing for students to attend physical classes when they are on campus, while also allowing for off-site students to Zoom in for synchronous meetings each week.
    • Classroom seating will be arranged to promote physical distancing and seats will be assigned in a manner to assure as much distancing as is possible, given classroom sizes and class enrollment.
    • Students and faculty will be required to wear masks in the classroom.  Face shields will be provided for faculty.
    • Faculty will be required to sanitize high touch areas between classes, upon arriving and before exiting the space. 
    • LSMSA will attempt to adjust the daily schedule to allow more time in-between classes in order to allow for sanitizing of high-touch areas between classes.
    • The student course load may need to be adjusted due to changes to the daily schedule and considerations regarding what is manageable during times of online instruction.
    • Elective offerings may be reduced due to the need to offer additional sections of graduation requirements.
    • Faculty will handle office hours via teleconference in order to minimize exposure for all parties involved. 
    • As much as possible assignments, assessments, and exams will be conducted electronically in order to limit sharing physical materials.
    • Students may not share books, manipulatives, or physical resources as it relates to homework, classroom instruction, or academic requirements.
    • Some curricular experiences will be moved to fully online, out of necessity, due to some faculty being in a high-risk population.
    • Should a faculty member need to transition to online instruction during the semester due to quarantine issues or illness the department chair, in consultation with the Director of Academic Services, will determine the most appropriate coverage options in order to present the students with the least disruption as possible in course delivery.
    • Should a student need to quarantine, due to illness or risk assessments, the instructor of record, the department chair, the Director of Academic Services, and LSMSA's medical/wellness team will connect with the student and family to assess possible accommodations.
  • Online Learning Experience

    While some of our students will be on campus during each ‘in-person’ session, the remainder will be expected to attend class via Zoom during each class period throughout the week.  We are moving to a fully synchronous format for the Spring semester in order to better integrate on-campus opportunities with at-home students.  To that end, students and families must recognize that students will need more, dedicated time for Zoom meetings throughout the school week.  Additionally, the importance of reliable internet and technology will be amplified this Spring.  If the LSMSA Foundation can be of assistance in securing internet or technology needs, please contact them at [email protected].
    As we plan for beginning the new semester with this hybrid, low-density model, we remain committed to delivering an engaging, accelerated, rigorous learning experience for the students. Our faculty and academic staff continue to cultivate online pedagogy and technology skill-sets. The faculty will continue to work primarily through the myLSMSA platform for presentations, assignments, and assessments, and Dual Enrollment options will still be available through Northwestern State University.  With this low-density model, LSMSA can maintain small classes (generally no more than 8 students in a classroom at a time).  The remainder of enrollees will be able to "Zoom" into the class and participate in discussion, follow the lecture, and ask questions of their faculty. 
    As was the case in the Fall, LSMSA anticipates state-wide book collection (mid-December) and book distribution (mid-January) processes.  Details will be forthcoming.
    Requirements for Online Learning
    Students will need access to:
    • a computer, Chromebook, tablet, or phone with video and microphone capabilities
    • a computer, Chromebook, or tablet with word processing capabilities
    • reliable high-speed internet connectivity
    • a scanner or phone/tablet camera
    Financial Support for Online Learning
    Parents of students who are in need of assistance in order to participate in online learning are encouraged to submit a request to the LSMSA Foundation’s Student Enrichment Fund.

Important Information for Spring 2021

List of 15 items.

  • Pre-Arrival Measures

    We ask that all students self-quarantine for two weeks prior to returning to campus. It is our hope that students and staff will limit contact with individuals outside of their immediate family unit during this time period. We recognize that students’ parents must still go to work, and students’ siblings must still go to school. In the interest of the safety of our school community, we ask our students to refrain from avoidable situations that would cause them to be in close contact with others outside of their own households. 

    We are not requiring pre-arrival COVID testing for several reasons. In addition to concerns about access and affordability for asymptomatic individuals, requiring testing prior to arrival would be inconsistent with the CDC’s current recommendations
  • Mask Expectations

    Community members and guests to campus will be expected to wear masks at all times except when alone in their residence hall rooms or private offices, when eating/showering/brushing teeth, or when engaged in rigorous physical exercise. For P.E. classes and athletics, LHSAA guidelines will be followed. 

    Students should bring at least five washable, reusable face masks. Face masks must cover nose and mouth. Bandannas and neck gaiters are not acceptable.  Please refer to CDC guidance regarding face coverings.

    Physical conditions that preclude an individual from wearing a face mask should be discussed with the School Nurse prior to coming to campus.
  • Daily Temperature Checks

    Temperatures will be screened daily as students leave the residence halls and as employees arrive at work.

    Temperature scanners have been installed at each residence hall, the High School Building, the CPT, the MAB, and the Gym/SAC.
  • Daily Symptom Tracking

    Before leaving their residence hall room, students should check themselves for symptoms using the Reach Boarding system screening tool.
    Students who are experiencing symptoms should remain in their rooms and contact the front desk of their residence hall by phone. The front desk  staff member will notify the School Nurse, who will then provide further assessment and instructions.

    School employees should complete the symptom screening tool daily, and any employee who is experiencing symptoms should contact their supervisor. 
  • Social Distancing

    The definition of social distancing regarding COVID-19 is a minimum distance of six feet in all directions.
    • All community members are encouraged to practice social distancing whenever possible.
    • Community members should avoid gathering in large groups or crowded spaces.
    • In order to support social distancing efforts, LSMSA will be making several adjustments to our normal operations. 
  • COVID Testing and Contact Tracing

    Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms or knowledge of exposure should not report to work or classes without receiving further clearance. 
    • Any employee who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 should notify their supervisor immediately. 
    • Any student who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 should notify the School Nurse immediately. 

    Identifying Persons with Possible COVID-19 Infection
    Based on the LDH Guidelines, individuals should be tested for COVID-19 if they exhibit at least one of the following major COVID-19 symptoms: dry cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or new changes in sense of smell or taste
    At least two of the following minor COVID-19 symptoms: fever, chills, rigors, muscle ache/myalgia, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, congestion/runny nose or fatigue AND no alternative more likely diagnosis.
    For students who are exhibiting symptoms of illness that do not meet the above criteria, the School Nurse will conduct a full physical assessment and provide treatment or contact the parent/guardian if she feels the student needs to be seen at the local clinic or by a physician.

    If the student’s symptoms do not meet the above criteria but do include any one minor COVID-19 symptom, the student will be monitored for 24 hours and will, at the School Nurse’s discretion, either be excused from classes or required to participate in online classes rather than in-person classes for that time period. 

    LSMSA does not have the ability to isolate/quarantine students on campus for prolonged periods. As is the case when students test positive for the flu, strep throat, or other highly contagious conditions, students who must quarantine for more than 3 days (either due to a positive COVID-19 test or due to exposure to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19) will be required to return home for the duration of the quarantine period. 
    Suspected COVID-19 Cases
    • If an LSMSA student shows symptoms of COVID-19, LSMSA will follow the LDH School Isolation/Quarantine Recommendations and LDH Recommendations for COVID-19 Contact Tracing in Schools. In brief, this means that the student will need to return home for a quarantine of at least 10 days unless the student receives a negative COVID-19 test or an alternate diagnosis from a physician.
    • Additionally, close contacts of symptomatic individuals or individuals with confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses will be required to return home and quarantine for 14 days past their last exposure to the symptomatic/COVID-19 positive individual.
    • In practice on LSMSA’s campus:
      • Students who show symptoms of COVID-19 will be isolated and parents contacted as soon as staff are aware of the symptoms.
      • Contact tracing will be performed utilizing contact tracing features that are available in the REACH Boarding System and the myLSMSA system and through student interview. Close contacts will be isolated and their parents notified.
      • The School Nurse will facilitate COVID-19 testing in Natchitoches for the symptomatic student, in order to minimize any unnecessary extended quarantines for the student and his/her close contacts, should the symptomatic student be negative for COVID-19. Payment for COVID-19 testing will be the responsibility of the parent.
    • If a symptomatic student is tested and receives a negative test result, all close contacts will be able to resume normal activities. The symptomatic student may remain in an on-campus sick room until they are able to return to normal activities or return home if their medical condition warrants a longer recovery period.
    • If a student does test positive for COVID-19, the symptomatic student and all close contacts will be required to promptly return home for the previously outlined required quarantine time (10 days for the symptomatic student and 14 days for close contacts.) 
      • If the parent/guardian is not comfortable with their student being tested for COVID-19 in Natchitoches if symptomatic, the parent should opt to have the student remain online for the Spring semester.
      • If it will be problematic, either due to household health vulnerabilities or transportation issues, for a student to return home for a quarantine period when/if warranted, the parent should opt to have the student remain online for the Spring semester. This requirement is nonnegotiable.

    Symptomatic or exposed employees will follow the same protocols regarding testing and quarantine. 

    To reduce the chances of COVID-19 exposure and an off-campus quarantine, students are strongly encouraged to "keep their bubble small" during their time on-campus. 
  • Sign-Out & Daily Check-Ins (Speedbump)

    Students will be allowed to leave campus; however, the sign-out process and requirements will be altered.
    • The daily check-in process (Speedbump) and the sign-in and sign-out process will be handled through the REACH Boarding system to both prevent unnecessary congestion at the front desks and to allow parents/guardians to make determinations regarding their student’s sign-out destinations and frequency. Parental permission will be required for all off-campus sign-outs.
    • Students are encouraged to avoid travel outside of Natchitoches (i.e. sign out to home) for the duration of their full on-campus session.
    • Students are not allowed to sign-out to any restaurant for indoor dining. Rather students are asked to select restaurants that offer outdoor dining or takeout/delivery services.
    • Students must wear masks when off campus to protect others, themselves, and the LSMSA community. 
  • Building Hours & Curfew

    On-campus curfews, in-building curfews, and residence hall openings will be adjusted due to staffing reductions and in the interest of student health and wellness.
    The residence halls will open at 7:30 am Monday-Friday and at 8:30 am on Saturday and Sunday. On-campus curfew will be 8:00 pm daily. In-building curfew will be 9:00 pm on weeknights and 10:00 pm on weekends.

    Room check will be held at 9:00 pm on weeknights and at 10:00 pm on weekends.
  • Dining

    • Dining hall capacity will be limited.
    • Tables will be reconfigured to promote social distancing and Plexiglas dividers will allow for limited socialization while eating.
    • Outdoor dining areas and take-out options will be available.
    • Self-service areas will be limited and replaced with prepackaged options, where possible.
    • Students will be expected to clean their area after they finish eating. Cleaning supplies will be provided.
    • Additional changes will be implemented by the food services provider.
  • Transportation

    • Local transportation will be limited this semester.
    • Capacity for school vans will be limited to 3 students, and capacity for school buses will be limited to 7 students.
    • The driver and passengers must wear masks at all times.
    • Hand sanitizer will be provided in all school vehicles.
    • High-touch surfaces will be disinfected after each trip.
    • Students are encouraged to utilize campus delivery, grocery pick-up, drive-through service, or other means of distancing when possible for groceries, off-campus meals, and personal needs. Further guidance regarding deliveries and grocery pick-up will be provided when students return to campus.
    • Students who see off-campus counselors are encouraged to utilize teletherapy. Dedicated spaces will be available in the residence halls. 
    • Due to limited staff, students needing transportation to and from church services, sports at NCHS or St. Mary's, or other regular events will need to make their own arrangements.
  • Athletics

    LSMSA will follow LHSAA Guidelines regarding athletics in relation to COVID-19. Each session will offer opportunities for involvement in LSMSA's athletics program. 
  • Student Support

    The Residential Life staff and Personal Counseling staff will be available to students whether they are on campus or learning online. During times of online learning, Student Life Advisors will interact daily with residents who are on campus and will remain in contact with online students via email and Zoom. The personal counselors will be available for appointments for students who are on campus, as well as for those students who are learning online. All individual sessions will be virtual unless a physically distant, in-person meeting is deemed best practice by the counselor and the student. 
  • Social Programming

    • Residential Life staff will continue to offer regular programming on evenings and weekends.
    • Events will be held outdoors in areas that allow for social distancing. 
    • All programming and any meetings will be limited in size to that which falls within or below state guidelines regarding group events. 
    • Key programs will be repeated to allow all interested students to participate.
    • No events will be planned that are deemed potentially unsafe. 
    • Fewer options for off-campus programming, such as trips to the movie theater, bowling alley, etc. will be offered this year. 
    • Some campus traditions will have to be reimagined or cancelled for this school year. 
  • Housing

    • The low-density model will allow for single rooms in the residence hall. Students will share bathroom areas with suitemates (Caddo) / hallmates (Prudhomme).
    • Students should not host other students in their suites/rooms. Rather, students who do not already share a living space should visit with one another in larger spaces that allow for more social distancing and better ventilation.
    • LSMSA will arrange common area furniture to promote social distancing. Students are prohibited from rearranging common area furniture.
  • Move-In and Move-Out

    • Move-in and move-out for each session will be phased over multiple days to reduce congestion in the halls and promote social distancing. 
    • Students will sign-up for a designated move-in day and time. Students may bring no more than two additional people to help them move-in. Before coming to campus to move in, all individuals should check for symptoms of COVID-19 using the provided symptom screening tool. Anyone exhibiting any symptom must not come to campus and should consult their healthcare provider.
    • Students and those assisting with move-in will be required to wear masks throughout the move-in process.
    • LSMSA employees and student leaders have historically assisted families with the move-in process. Due to social distancing, we will be unable to provide that service this year. Residential Life staff will be on campus to welcome students and answer questions.
    • Students are asked to think carefully about the items they bring with them to campus. In order to minimize shopping needs, students are encouraged to bring what they anticipate needing for the time that they will be on campus, but also to avoid over-packing.
    • Seniors who attend Blue Session must remove all items from the room prior to Gold Session with the exception of a mini-fridge
      • Please be aware that every room will be used, therefore another student will live in your room during Gold Session. 
We all agree on one thing - we are better when we are together.  We ask all LSMSA families to review the Eagle Pledge and work to ensure you are modeling these behaviors.  Together, we can reduce the COVID-19 risk on our campus so that our students can return to the living/learning community that makes LSMSA so special.

Survey Results

In an effort to gather input from stakeholders regarding a potential return to campus for Spring 2021, LSMSA conducted a survey of students, parents, and employees from October 21-28, 2020.