desk stock file photo school

During a tour of the West Jefferson High School with coronavirus precautions it can be seen that each desk in the classroom has a grey or red sticker on the top corner in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Each period, students will be asked to alternate their use of desks and to clean them off after each class. The school is scheduled to open on August 26. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Zachary’s elementary schools will resume five-day-a-week in-person classes next week — a move unanimously approved Tuesday by the Zachary Community School Board.

The plan will take effect Sept. 8 when students in prekindergarten to sixth grades — many of whom currently are following a hybrid learning plan — come back from their Labor Day break. It also applies to students in grades 7 to 12 who have cognitive disabilities and receive special services at their schools.

All other older students will continue lessons through whichever method they've used since the school year started Aug. 17.

Nearly half the district’s 5,600 students are pursuing a 100% online curriculum. The remaining students are on the hybrid plan of alternate days of in-person and virtual lessons.

Tuesday’s decision came after previous meetings where parents urged board members to reopen schools full-time. They said many children learn best when they’re physically in classrooms. Others pointed out the challenges that hybrid and virtual teaching poses for working parents.

Superintendent Scott Devillier backed the return to a traditional schedule for younger students, saying the district has been working hard to keep school facilities clean and to safeguard the health of students and teachers.

“These last few weeks have given us an opportunity to work things out with a smaller amount of kids,” Devillier said. “That’s why we had this transition plan.”

A maximum of 24 students will be allowed in each classroom when elementary schools resume full-time in-person instruction, and they’ll be spaced out according to social distancing guidelines, he said. He also assured people at the meeting that kids will get time for recess and physical education.

He advised against five days a week of regular instruction at the middle and high schools, saying larger class sizes in upper grade levels would make it nearly impossible to adhere to social distancing recommendations.

Families of students who are uncomfortable with five days of face-to-face classes will be able to request to switch to the online-only program, Devillier said.