NOLA-PS is more than just a school district - it's an ever-evolving and vibrant community of students, teachers, families, schools, principals, staff, school leaders and so many others. Together, we make up a school district like no other; one that is growing and improving every single day and that values the different perspectives of each member of our school community.
Key to our growth and success are the tireless efforts of all members of the Orleans Parish School Board - hardworking, devoted public servants who help keep the district running. Every four years, the people of New Orleans decide what that School Board looks like, always bringing new ideas and lived experiences along the way. To our outgoing School Board members - Vice-President Woody Koppel, Leslie Ellison, Grisela Alejandro Jackson and Sarah Newell Usdin - I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your years of service to our community. Under your leadership and guidance, NOLA-PS has flourished and improved year after year. And to our new faces - Katherine Baudouin, Olin Parker, Jancarlo “J.C.” Wagner-Romero and Carlos Zervigon - you will certainly have some big shoes to fill, but I’m confident that you are all well equipped to fill them. Congratulations, and I look forward to working together to ensure that every New Orleans student is given the tools and support they need to succeed in school and beyond.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to address our community directly on the latest information around the pandemic and how it's affecting our schools. Our number one priority is always the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, teachers and staff, guided by our comprehensive and data-driven Roadmap to Reopening at every step of the pandemic. The science tells us that in-person learning is a critical part of children’s wellbeing, and NOLA-PS will continue to prioritize in-person learning in coordination with our local and state medical experts.
While case numbers are on the rise in New Orleans and across the country, our school community has done an impressive job of keeping the pandemic at arm’s length and for the most part, out of our schools. The latest data show we are tracking 80 active cases among our students and staff, and while these numbers are more than we had a month ago, they are a tiny fraction - .16% - of the more than 50,000 students and educators in our schools. This is a testament to our schools’ steadfast commitment to the guidelines in our Roadmap. While other school districts across the country have gone back to distance learning, we remain open. And I can proudly say that NOLA Public Schools are some of the safest places students and staff can be.
What happens next is up to all of us. I know we’re all looking forward to the holidays, but we can’t afford to let our guards down when it comes to COVID-19. In order to keep our schools open and students in classrooms, we need everyone in our community to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and that means doubling down on the simple steps we’ve all been taking this year. That means washing our hands, getting tested frequently, wearing our masks, and social distancing whenever possible.
The small actions we take as individuals and as a community over these next few weeks will mean the difference between keeping our schools open and returning to distance learning. NOLA-PS is committed to keeping classrooms open and I know our entire school community is too.
Together, we can do this.
Yours In Service,
Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.
Superintendent, NOLA Public Schools