65 percent of students back to in-person learning by end of fall semester

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By the end of public schools’ first full semester in the pandemic, 65% of students are back to face-to-face learning, 21% are virtually learning, and 13% are learning in an in-person/virtual hybrid model, Louisiana State Superintendent Cade Brumley reported to the Louisiana House Committee on Education.

Younger students made up a bigger chunk of students learning face-to-face while older high school students generally made up more of the students schooling virtually.

Louisiana schools have also closed the technological gap and now have more mobile devices than students in the state.

“For so long, schools were always concerned about ‘what is my student to computer ratio?’” Brumley said. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to online learning also shifted schools’ focus on providing laptops and mobile devices.

The Louisiana Department of Education has also provided virtual instruction guidelines for teachers across the state.

“Certainly we have a long way to go with virtual instruction in our state, but there’s no comparison between what virtual instruction looks like today versus what virtual instruction looked like in March,” Brumley said.

Brumley reported a total of 186,873 students — or 27 percent — without confirmed internet connectivity in their homes, “which shows as we move forward that this broadband issue is a significant challenge, especially in our rural areas.”

Brumley said he’s pleased about the FCC’s $342 million grant to Louisiana to expand broadband access to rural communities, but that money will be rolled out over a 10-year period, “and we need this work to be done much quicker.”

As schools move into the next semester, Brumley said schools have been provided 1 million masks, 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer and several hundreds of thousands of rapid COVID-19 testing kits.