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My School District’s 2020-21 Planning, Including Surveying Employees and Parents

July 15, 2020

In this post, I offer info on what my school district is doing in its efforts to plan for the 2020-21 school year, with the goals of informing individuals in my district as well as offering ideas to other schools and districts.

A critical point is that my school district did what I see parents and teachers from other districts and states asking for: input into the decision making process.

I teach in southern Louisiana for St. Tammany Parish Public Schools. The day my district emailed its survey to teachers and staff (July 06, 2020), it also informed us via robocall to help ensure participation.

My sister told me of the parent survey, which touches on issues of transportation, mask-wearing, and need for access to school meals, among other issues.

The district reminded employees of the survey opportunity in this July 08, 2020, email:

Dear STPPS Employees,

I know that many of you have questions about the 2020-2021 school year, and I appreciate your patience during this time as we continuously work together to develop plans for the upcoming school year.

We are receiving good feedback from employees and parents from the surveys we opened this week. We ask that anyone who has not filled out the employee survey do so by Friday at 5 PM. It is important for us to have input as we make plans.

In addition to getting input through the surveys, our district leadership team has held video conferences with school administrators to discuss tentative plans and determine the unique needs of all 55 of our schools. Once these needs are determined and the survey results are collected, we will be able to develop more details about how our schools can safely open to students and employees.

At this time, our general plans include multiple phases and options pending policies that may be put in place by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and recommended guidelines from the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Department of Health and the Governor’s Office. We’re having frequent Zoom meetings and conference calls and are in consultation with representatives from a variety of health and government organizations to ensure we have the proper safety protocols and procedures in place.

We are planning for a variety of scenarios to adhere to the recommendations and guidelines that may be in place when school begins.

Phase 1: A distance learning experience would likely be implemented.

Phase 2: Students would attend school in person to the greatest extent possible with modifications for class sizes, social distancing, and other safety guidelines. A hybrid learning experience with a combination of traditional and distance learning, block schedules, and various other options based on grade level are being considered.

Phase 3: Students would likely attend school in person with recommended safety protocols and social distancing provisions in place.

Although these plans are tentative, we are preparing to implement any of them quickly as the situation evolves. Some of the things we are doing to get ready for the start of school are holding virtual professional development and training in Google Classroom over the summer and are planning additional professional development before school begins, Chromebooks have been ordered for students and teachers, a new online student registration portal was launched, and our curriculum team is developing distance learning curriculum in Google Classroom for teachers to use if distance learning is required again. We are working with administrators to develop school-level facility plans and ordering necessary supplies for a safe return to school. We are excited to announce our new STPPS Virtual School will be launched soon.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, and as additional guidance is issued, our plan will be updated on our website at

We appreciate the patience of our STPPS family as we continue to carefully make decisions in the best interest of our students, families, employees, and community. We understand the importance of communication with our employees, so we will continue to update you as the plans are updated.

Pete Jabbia

Interim Superintendent

On July 15, 2020, the district sent this email informing us of the results and linking to the report:

Dear Employees,

I want to thank you for your patience as we work through guidance and feedback from our employees and parents/caregivers to make the best decisions for our School System. I’d like to share the results of our recent 2020-2021 planning surveys with you.

We had an extremely positive response to our recent surveys with 5,566 employee responses and 29,234 parent/caregiver responses. This is a testament to the collaboration it takes to begin the school year safely. We hear the ideas, concerns, and feedback of our stakeholders, and we are taking them into consideration as we move forward with making plans. Our takeaways from the employee survey are that 78.9% of you feel comfortable returning to work but 28.2% would be considered high risk and 27.7% have concerns about childcare or other personal situations that would make reporting to work a challenge. Those are things we are looking at and working to address. View survey results.

We will continue to share updates with you when new information is available. I appreciate your ongoing support.

Pete Jabbia

Interim Superintendent

Based upon survey results, also on July 15, 2020, the district announced the launch of the district’s virtual school:

Dear Employees,

I’m happy to share information about our new STPPS Virtual School with you and let you know registration is now open.

The STPPS Virtual School is a full-time virtual school open to students in grades K-12 who live in St. Tammany Parish. It will provide the flexibility to learn anytime, anywhere through online courses while still receiving the support of certified teachers and district resources. The recent parent/caregiver survey indicated many families are considering this option for their children. Once we get a better idea of how many students will enroll, we will evaluate staffing needs. More information is available at

Thank you for taking the time to stay informed as we continue planning for a safe return to school. As STPPS employees, you are a trusted source of information about our district for families and community members, and we want you to have the most up-to-date and accurate information to share.

I appreciate your ongoing support.

Pete Jabbia

Interim Superintendent

Two points that I noticed concerning the district’s virtual school is that in signing up for this online option, parents commit to having their children enrolled for at least a semester and must withdraw from their current district school in order to enroll in the virtual school. Both of these conditions will help prevent an unanticipated influx of students who change their minds into in-person classrooms, a concern I had about the district offering an online school option.

Finally, on July 13, 2020, the district informed employees of 2020-21 calendar revisions that allow teachers more planning time prior to start of school and stagger student attendance for the first week. (“Attendance” might be in person, hybrid, or completely online; decision not yet finalized):

Dear Employees,

In a continued effort to keep you informed of our plans for the 2020-2021 school year, I want to update you on changes to our school calendar.

Teachers and school support employees will have additional days to prepare for students before they report to school without requiring additional work time. Students will return to school in a staggered approach in small groups to provide a safe and productive re-entry to school.

All employees will report to work on their regular scheduled date. Teachers will return to school August 3-7 for professional development; Teachers Day will be August 10. August 11-14 will be “Safe Start Days” where one-quarter of students will report to school each day. This will be based on the first letter of their last name. On August 17, students will begin their regular school schedule, whether it is distance learning, hybrid, or in-person at that time.

As part of the revisions to the calendar, students will now report to school October 9 and March 12 for a half-day on the previously scheduled Professional Development/Record Keeping Days. All holidays remain intact and unchanged.

View the revised 2020-2021 Calendar.

Thanks for your continued patience and support as we work together for a safe start for the 2020-2021 school year.

Pete Jabbia

The 2020-21 school year will be “challenging,” indeed. We need to help each other out where we can. My hope is that readers will find this information useful. Too, feel free to share additional ideas and suggestions in the comments section of this post.



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  1. Anonymous permalink

    This online survey was locally advertised to the general public and did not require verification that participants were parents or even community members. As such, there is no way to know if these responses reflect the true wishes of actual parents, or were left by those with some other agenda. We may never know, without seeing the IPs that are logged when these types of responses are collected.

    • An IP only notes location of person when completing survey. Too, results could differ from the potential responses of the many parents who did not participate. Even with its limitations, this effort by the district to seek parental input was reasonable and provides general info useful in pursuing subsequent courses of action, like opening enrollment in online school.

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