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Our school

No one’s journey through this pandemic has been easy. There is uncertainty and unwanted surprises for all of us nearly every week. The best we can do is apply patience and plan for what we can so that when opportunity presents itself, we are in a great position to act in the best interest of our staff, our teachers, our students, and our families.

With that in mind, we have since the beginning monitored the data used to track the COVID-19 pandemic in New Orleans and sought the insightful advice of health officials and our medical advisors before we make any major decision. We applied that same diligence this week when the opportunity arose for us to safely return our elementary and middle school students to their classrooms on Monday, Feb. 1.

Based upon the metrics, such as positive test rates and new case counts, we are seeing the trends we had been hoping for to reopen schools and classrooms.

We will once again follow the phased approach laid out in our Roadmap to Reopening that has worked so well this year. Grades Pre-K through 8th can return to their classrooms starting Monday. We will continue to monitor the data and soon begin to phase in high school students, with a plan to fully return under our working hybrid model after the Mardi Gras break.

We know that in-person learning is the best educational experience for students because it develops the whole child, academically, socially, and emotionally. Research and our own district’s data have shown us that school is one of the safest places to be when community levels of COVID-19 remain moderate to low. As a district, we will do our part to keep it that way by following safety protocols such as taking temperatures at the door, limiting class sizes, and distributing hand sanitizer.

We are also anticipating the positive impact that vaccinations will have on our school community. Our nurses and other health service providers are in the first group to be immunized. We hope teachers and all other support staff will soon be eligible and we continue to coordinate with our schools and Children’s Hospital in anticipation of expanding access to vaccines for all school staff.

I would like to take this moment to thank all New Orleans residents and businesses. Without your discipline and willingness to mask up, stay socially distanced, wash your hands and limit interactions with each other, we would not have the option we have today to move our youngest learners back where they belong: in the classroom with their teachers and friends.

I also want to thank our parents and students for their sacrifice and perseverance, as well as our teachers and staff, who work tirelessly for our school communities. A great example of this is Kim Bishop, a speech pathologist, who has dedicated more than 25 years of her life in service of New Orleans’ public school students.

That’s what keeps me coming to work,” she said recently. “Knowing that I’m making a difference in the lives of children.

We can all make a difference for our students, and it starts with us all making the effort to stay safe so that we can keep our children safe and learning in their schools. Keep up the good work, New Orleans.

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.
Superintendent, NOLA Public Schools


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