To our community:

In the midst of this global health crisis, New Orleans is coming together to care for our students.

The decision to close schools was the right one; the safety of our students, educators, and families is paramount. Now, we must find ways to provide those critical resources, academic and non-academic, that children often receive through their schools.

Our schools, district, nonprofits, businesses, local leaders, and community members are stepping up to address some of these concerns.

There is a robust, coordinated effort through which at least twenty-two school sites will be providing “grab and go” food pickup by tomorrow, March 18. NOLA Public Schools expects to have a citywide child nutrition program in place by March 23. In addition, the Second Harvest Food Bank is providing emergency food assistance to children and adults alike.

There are many other resources becoming available each day. We share just a few of them here: 

Unemployment relief — The Louisiana Workforce Commission has released guidance for workers affected by the pandemic who are seeking assistance, and the New Orleans Business Alliance has established a Relief Fund for gig economy workers.

Free internet services — Cox Communications is offering 30 days of free internet access for low-income families with K-12 students. Many internet providers have agreed to open their private Wi-Fi hotspots to public use, such as Cox.

Continued utility services — Entergy and the Sewerage & Water Board have suspended disconnections and shut-offs for at least 30 days. Many communications companies have committed to the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” including Cox CommunicationsVerizon, and AT&T, meaning that for at least 60 days they will not terminate service or charge late fees as a result of nonpayment due to the pandemic.

Housing security — City Courts have suspended evictions until at least April 24; residents with concerns related to rent, landlord-tenant issues, and foreclosures can access financial and legal assistance through the Mayor’s Office (504-658-4200) and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

Mental health support — SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is a toll-free, multilingual, confidential crisis support service that connects any U.S. resident in need to a trained crisis counselor; call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

Additional resources are being listed on the City of New Orleans’ Coronavirus Resident Assistance page as they become available.

Whether you live here in New Orleans or farther away, you can make a difference. If you are looking for ways to help our children and families, consider supporting some of the following organizations and efforts: 

The Greater New Orleans Foundation has activated its Disaster Response and Restoration Fund, which supports a network of voluntary and community organizations taking care of New Orleans’ elderly, homeless, and low-income residents. Donate here.

Second Harvest Food Bank is seeking monetary donations to support their emergency response. Every dollar donated helps them provide four meals to someone in need. For those in the New Orleans area, Second Harvest is also registering volunteers and accepting physical donations of fresh produce, non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, soap, and hand sanitizer.

The New Orleans Council on Aging is seeking monetary donations to support elderly community members through its Meals on Wheels program and other critical services.

HandsOn New Orleans is recruiting both in-person and virtual volunteers now so that a roster is ready once nonprofits have had time to determine the best strategies for helping those in need and to scale up their response. Sign up here.

The City of New Orleans is recruiting medical and behavioral health volunteers in an effort to build a network that can support public health efforts. Volunteers may perform a variety of clinical and non-clinical tasks under the direction of the New Orleans Health Department and the State of Louisiana Department of Health. Sign up here.

This is a moment of great uncertainty. We must continue to listen closely to what our students, families, schools, and educators say that they need. Our actions must then be coordinated, thoughtful, and targeted to provide children with effective support.

At NSNO, we are working closely with NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS), other local nonprofits, and individual schools to help where we can. We will continue to stay connected, and will remain in contact with all of our community in order to inform you of opportunities to safely pitch in. You can also visit NOLA-PS’ and the City of New Orleans’ COVID-19 update pages for the most up-to-date information. As always, we are grateful to have you in our community, and grateful to stand alongside you in working for our children.

We will persevere, together!


Patrick Dobard
New Schools for New Orleans

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