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Message From Superintendent

Dear Members of the NOLA-PS Community,

After closing the book on a school year unlike any other, we’ve been hard at work preparing for our return to school in August. For months we have been listening to our community, hearing from students, teachers, and parents who all have questions about what their routines will look like this fall as our city and country continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. And just last week, we released our Roadmap to Reopening NOLA Public Schools.

As a father and educator, I know just how important it is that students and teachers safely return to school buildings this fall. Schools are special and dynamic places that are critical to the growth and development of our children. With this in mind, we developed our Roadmap to prioritize the health and safety of students, staff, and families; maximize in-person student learning; provide flexibility to meet the varied needs of families; and provide consistency across our schools. The plan was informed by the NOLA-Public Schools Reopening Task Force; the findings of our community stakeholder survey; close coordination with our school leaders and essential stakeholders; and local, state, and federal health guidelines.

This coming school year, schools will offer a mix of in-person and distance learning, based upon the status of the City of New Orleans’ reopening phases and specific health and safety guidelines set by the Louisiana Department of Education. As a system of schools, we have prioritized in-person learning whenever possible, especially for our youngest learners in grades PreK -to 4th grade. Any family who does not feel comfortable returning to school for in-person learning will have the option to learn from home. We learned a lot this past spring about what works – and doesn’t work – in a distance setting, and these lessons position our schools to provide strong instructional programming both in-person and at a distance.

In addition to the plan for reopening detailed in the Roadmap, we will provide a series of resources to support schools and families in preparing for the 2020-21 school year. This additional guidance will include a school operations toolkit, distance learning resources and specialized guidance for diverse learners.

Together as a community, we must work to mitigate risks to our students and teachers as we return to school buildings. At school, this means that everyone will be required to wear face coverings, schools will perform temperature checks upon arrival, social distancing measures will be observed as needed, and all schools will participate in enhanced cleaning of classrooms, facilities, and buses. We will also ask everyone to stay at home if they are sick, exhibiting symptoms, or have close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

We recognize that planning for reopening in this “new normal” will not be easy. We also know that this past spring was not easy either, and I am grateful to our educators and parents for their heroic efforts to support students. School closures were extremely disruptive to families, and our educators were forced to learn a new way of teaching overnight on top of all the other stressors presented by COVID-19. Our educators are essential to helping our community move forward in the face of this crisis, and we are committed to doing all we can at NOLA-PS to support them this coming school year.

The 2020-21 school year will be different. And we must be prepared to adjust and respond as needed at any given moment. We know we are asking more of our educators and families. But with our community’s cooperation and shared sacrifice, together we will help our children thrive.

In Service,

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

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