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Our school

As I have stood in stadiums, gyms, and school buildings these past few weeks, watching the beaming smiles of our NOLA Public Schools seniors make their ever-important graduation marches across the stage – in-person, no less! – I have been filled with enduring gratitude.

Gratitude for each and every one of our students who showed amazing resilience to keep up their studies while this pandemic upended the world around them. Gratitude to our educators, especially our teachers, who so quickly mastered the art of teaching through computer screens and in classrooms at the same time. And gratitude to our school community, which pulled together like never before to confront this pandemic’s rattling impact on all our lives. For the past 14 months, we held COVID-19 at bay among our students and staff, reopened our classrooms when so many school districts couldn’t or wouldn’t, and kept our school buildings among some of the safest spaces to work, teach, learn, and play.

We did all this, together. But we are not done, yet.

Now is the time to begin preparing for the next challenge: Bringing back all our students to their classrooms next fall to learn face-to-face with their teachers and shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers.

It is no secret that student learning suffered this year. Stability is a key to effective teaching and learning, and this pandemic did its worst to disrupt that. It is now our sacred duty as educators, community leaders, and parents to rally around our children, engage them, and get them excited about returning to their schools in a few short months.

School will be back in session, in person, this August. I made that our mission in January. While schools may plan virtual options for safety or health reasons, such as quarantines, we want every NOLA-PS student in class next year to enjoy the benefits in-person learning brings to them, academically, socially, and emotionally.

We know students are safe and strongest when learning in-person, and this summer will be critical to resetting this expectation. Our schools recognize that, and I applaud their creative efforts to boost summer learning opportunities for all students. Summer interventions build strong foundations for the next school year, and it is encouraging to see our school community respond to so many parents as they seek summer enrichment options for their children.

More than 85 percent of our schools have applied for and received grants – totaling more than $1.5 million – to enhance their learning and enrichment programs this summer. We anticipate more than 13,000 students, including 2,000 with exceptionalities and another 1,000 English learners, to benefit from these offerings. In many cases, schools will open their doors to all their students, and they expect to see triple the number who have capitalized on summer learning in past years. Our partners are also stepping up. Organizations, including Community Works, KidSmART and YAYA, have joined our schools to offer enrichment programs. Some schools are seizing the opportunity to expand their programs. Bricolage, for example, has engaged the National Society of Black Engineers to launch a pilot summer program that, if successful, will continue through the school year. The Living School is launching a pilot program aimed specifically at disengage students to reignite their love of learning. Firstline has lined up field trips with several community partners throughout the summer. And Warren Easton plans to elevate its music and marching band programs to revive its school culture.

Our schools are amazing places and again, I am so grateful for their dedication. But they can’t conquer this challenge alone. So I am imploring every New Orleanian – every parent, every mentor, every teacher, every elected official, every pastor, every community organizer – to rally together around our children. Talk to them. Embrace them. Encourage them. Make them see the promising futures that learning will open for them. Show them the light that a quality education from inside a classroom will shine on them.

We can do this, together.

In Service,



Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.

Contact

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Department of Children and Family Services

Call 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) to report child abuse and neglect.

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Hotline Number for Parents
504-527-KIDS

School-based issues or concerns from parents

24-hour Hotline Number for Community
504-522-HELP

School and District based concerns, feedback, & inquiries from school staff or community members

External Resources

NOLA Public Schools. Every Child. Every School. Every Day.

2401 Westbend Parkway
New Orleans, Louisiana 70114

Phone: 504-304-3520

Hotline Number for Parents
504-527-KIDS

School-based issues or concerns from parents

24-hour Hotline Number for Community
504-522-HELP
District based community concerns, feedback, & inquiries from school staff or community members