New Orleans Public Schools (NOLA-PS), our city’s individual schools, school networks, our families, and our educators are united in their belief that we must keep our children and teachers safe while continuing to provide our students with a high-quality education as school begins this fall.
In early July, NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) released guidance that would enable schools to re-open in person during Phase 2 for some students while others continued their virtual learning. However, given current citywide COVID-19 trends, NOLA-PS updated that guidance in order to preserve the safety of students, teachers, and staff. They have announced that school will be online for all students this fall until September 8th. At the end of August, NOLA Public Schools will review public health data to determine whether schools will be able to hold in-person classes after September 8th and when those classes will begin.
There is so much our students and educators will undeniably miss without in-person schooling, but their health and safety come first. And both NOLA-PS and our schools are taking steps to make sure that students’ learning continues in a high-quality manner as instruction moves to a virtual format.
Technology is key for this process. Our schools are making sure there are Chromebooks for each student. They are also purchasing additional hotspots to make sure students without home internet have WiFi access. NSNO continues to fundraise to offset the significant cost of these purchases here.
Though every school will tailor their plans to their own community’s needs, all schools in New Orleans will:
- Continue to provide two meals a day citywide regardless of whether school is happening in person or online.
Maintain high academic standards: Schools had to submit full distance-learning plans to NOLA-PS in early July, and they all also received federal CARES dollars from the LDOE that require them to continue to use high-quality curriculum, provide professional development for teachers, provide social and mental health supports including mental health screenings, and make sure older students have support around their transition to college and career. Schools will also continue instruction in non “core” subjects such as art and music.
Allow students to get one-on-one supports as needed from teachers online or over the phone.
Prepare for students to return to school buildings in-person in any capacity, the district has purchased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all its schools, like face masks and shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and no-touch thermometers.
NOLA-PS will revisit these guidelines again at the end of August as public health conditions change over time. They will be in constant contact with public health officials, who will also be in contact with schools. These plans will stay in place until the city, in conjunction with public health officials, deem it safe for children to return in person to their classrooms again.
Even with the best plans in place, this will be hard. There is so much uncertainty and so much we have never had to contend with before. We are confident, though, that our schools and educators are up to the task. They are skilled, creative, and devoted to making sure their students have what they need. They have our full support as they take on this unprecedented work that will ensure our students continue the high-quality education they deserve.