Last week has given us another great hope in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to keep our students and staff healthy and safe and in school, where the joy of learning can continue to thrive. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday approved emergency authorization for the COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11.

This means that almost all our school-age students are now eligible for this safe, effective, and lifesaving prevention measure. We have seen the proven benefits: among the vaccinated there are fewer infections; fewer hospitalizations; and fewer deaths.

For school-age children and their families, being vaccinated carries even greater rewards. Vaccinated students do not have to quarantine when they come into direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. For them, it means fewer days of school missed. For their families, it means fewer days of work missed to stay home with them – and in all, it brings much-needed stability to our daily lives.

Now is the time to embrace our youngest learners. Now is the time to do our part. Let’s come together as family, as community, as servants of the public good, to bring the vaccine to as many children of New Orleans as we can, as fast as we can.

I urge our parents and guardians to contact their children’s pediatricians and schedule their first rounds of vaccinations. At NOLA Public Schools, we will do our part to open access to vaccines for our schools. On our website, you can find a host of community resources to find vaccination opportunities near you at convenient times. We will also be hosting Saturday vaccination events starting Nov. 13 for our 5 to 11-year-old students, in collaboration with our health partners at Ochsner and Children’s Hospital. Please check the NOLA-PS Vaccination Station at today to gather more information and schedule your shot. You can also watch our town hall we held to help answer questions parents had about the vaccination process for their children.

I cannot begin to express how proud I am of our schools, our staff, and our students during these difficult times. Everyone is doing their part to keep COVID out of our classrooms, and I saw the results in the happy faces of children as I stopped by our schools these last few weeks. Participation in COVID testing opportunities remains high – we continue to average almost 15,000 tests a week among our school community members. That vigilance has kept both quarantines and positive cases low.

Keep up the good work!

In Service,

Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.

NOLA-PS Superintendent of Schools