First cohort of students returns to LSMSA campus in one week

NATCHITOCHES, LA- It’s the moment every Eagle has been waiting for since the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) sent students home to continue the 2020-2021 year through virtual learning.

The first cohort of students will move back onto campus beginning Jan. 14. Every aspect of this plan has been examined to ensure safety is the top priority.

Each family will have the opportunity to opt for a fully online semester in the Spring. Additionally, contingencies are in place to continue instruction fully online should the need to transition to virtual learning as an entire community arise.

“We are thrilled to move forward with this plan, and we couldn’t do it without full cooperation of faculty and staff and our school’s amazing supporters,” said Dr. Steve Horton, LSMSA Executive Director. “We look forward to seeing everyone’s (masked) faces on campus!”

It’s taken a lot of preparation to get ready for the return to campus. Senior administration joined forces with an on-campus team to develop a specific plan. All students have an opportunity to be on campus during the spring semester in cohorts for a minimum of one face-to-face session with the following precautions in place:

Self-quarantining before returning to campus
Masks are expected to be worn at all times
Daily temperature checks and symptom tracking for students and employees
Social distancing
COVID testing and contact tracing when necessary
Limited dining hall capacity and local transportation
Follow LHSAA guidelines for athletics
Private rooms
Smaller class sizes
Restricted group gatherings

“I am beyond excited to be back at LSMSA,” said Sneha Anthony (Lake Charles, Class of ’21). “The school has been incredibly accommodating…I can’t wait for us to come back to campus and be stronger than before.”

Measures have been put in place to protect everyone at LSMSA. These range from modifications in the dining area, to mailing textbooks out to all students, as classes will begin virtually on Jan. 13. When the campus closes for sanitization between each cohort’s session, all students will continue to learn virtually. During the final five weeks of the semester, seniors have the option to experience some of their traditions on campus as a class, while sophomores and juniors will complete synchronous virtual instruction at home.

“We’ve seen so much grit and resilience from our students this Fall,” said Dr. Kristi Pope Key, Director of Academic Services. “I’m so proud of the work they’ve done, and I’m excited that they’ll have the option to be on campus in cohorts in the Spring. I think the chance to connect with their peers and their faculty will be an energizing experience for all of us.”

New tools to make the transition smoother include REACH software, which automates check-in and speed bumps and adds another element of safety for students, and thermal imaging cameras with technology to screen advanced temperature and alert school staff. Because elevated temperature is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, temperature screenings are a frontline measure for protecting students, faculty and staff who have or have been in contact with those who may be infected.

“We know that we are better when we are together,” said Dr. Horton. “We look forward to opportunities to be together again this spring and to working together to develop our minds, support our friends, prioritize our wellness, and strengthen our community.”

Praecellemus — We shall excel.

Cohort schedule:
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.