We are nearing the one-year milestone of the pandemic’s impact on our school system, and I continue to be proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together as a community in support of our students.
A year ago, I was meeting with school leaders to quickly plan for the anticipated transition to distance learning. This week, with the return of our high school students back to classrooms, all NOLA-PS students once again have the opportunity to participate to in-person learning. We are so happy to welcome them back as we know our students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally when with their teachers and peers.
As the city’s health data continues to improve, I’m hopeful that we can continue with in-person learning through the end of the school year. Along with the other safety precautions we are implementing in accordance with our Roadmap to Reopening, access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be a key part of keeping our school community safe. I am thrilled that our educators have been prioritized to receive the vaccine because of the important work they do with our school children each and every day. We want our teachers and on-site school support staff safe and healthy and are committed to doing our part to help them gain access to these important shots as supplies and time allow.
NOLA-PS is excited to be working with the Louisiana Department of Health and community healthcare partners such as LCMC Children’s Hospital Children’s Hospital, New Orleans East Hospital, and others to help our schools schedule vaccinations for teachers and staff. And we are already getting started! In this first week of eligibility, we anticipate vaccinating over 1,000 educators. I hope every teacher and support staff who works on-site at one of our schools will take advantage of their place in the current vaccine rollout and believe that having access to vaccinations and testing will help curb the spread of the virus within our school community. NOLA-PS will continue to work closely with our school leaders to keep them fully apprised of the vaccine options available as these efforts progress.
Last week we also celebrated the launch of the inaugural Dr. Rosalynne B. Dennis Fitness Challenge Special Olympics, supported by the Special Olympics Louisiana Unified Champion Schools. The Fitness Challenge brings together schools across our district to encourage healthy habits and promote inclusion amongst students. It’s a fun opportunity for students of all abilities to engage with each other, develop social skills and forge lifelong relationships. Through participating in this exciting initiative, students and teachers have the chance to earn great prizes such as: fitness equipment, healthy snacks, student technology scholarships, and a few lucky schools will even win a sensory room equipped with supplies from Flaghouse.
Dr. Rosalynne Dennis, who this event is named in honor of, compassionately served our District for more than 40 years. She had a special gift for children with disabilities, and she made it her life’s mission to ensure they were provided exceptional educational services, while also promoting initiatives, such as Special Olympics, that focused on their health and safety. Alongside her family, we will continue to recognize her hard work and dedication each year through this annual initiative. Check out our school roll call video highlighting our participants in the inaugural Fitness Challenge. This past year has shown us there is nothing we can’t achieve if we do it together. Thank you for being such a valuable member of our NOLA-PS community.
Together, we can do this.
Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. Superintendent, NOLA Public Schools