Students attending Roman Catholic schools in Baton Rouge will return to physical classes next month, the diocese announced Wednesday.
Church officials said the diocese's schools have been consulting with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, which is making recommendations on classroom configurations and logistics for recesses, lunch and when students move between classrooms.
The move comes as public school systems have largely adopted plans to begin classes online-only next month.
School and church officials stressed the importance of in-person learning, while also adding that Catholic schools could revert to online learning if the need arises.
"It is important for students to have social interaction at school for their holistic development, so the ideal is for students to return to classrooms and develop relationships with teachers and their peers," the diocese said.
Schools will offer online learning for students on a case-by-case basis. "There is no 'one-size-fits-all' protocol," the diocese said.
The East Baton Rouge School District on Tuesday pushed back dates students can return to campus following a recent rise in new coronavirus cases. Its classes will resume Aug. 10, four days later than previously scheduled.
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Catholic schools will have the ability to set their own start and end times and some may have to stagger times to help parents with carpool traffic. The East Baton Rouge district will continue to provide bus service for the parochial schools even though its own schools will be closed at least through Labor Day, district spokeswoman Taylor Gast said Wednesday.
Along with state social distancing requirements, schools may also add temperature checks for visitors and students, and require parents to answer health-related questions on the school's app each morning. Lunches may also be delivered to students' classrooms or schools might offer outdoor eating.