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Our school

If there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s that the NOLA community is resilient. Through every challenge - from COVID-19, to a historic hurricane season, we’ve come together, pushed through and emerged stronger. After Hurricane Zeta and despite the enduring threat of the pandemic, students are back in schools and we are persevering through every challenge that comes our way.

In this District, we are successfully overcoming the obstacles of 2020 by leading together. Last week, Zeta called us once again to band together in support of our school community. Alongside our school leaders, NOLA-PS jumped into action, focusing first and foremost on the health and safety of our students, staff and teachers, while assessing the impacts of damage to our buildings and power outages. I saw that diligence firsthand as I visited school properties around the city. We maintained open lines of communication, kept families and staff informed, and worked hard toward a safe return to as normal a school day as we can expect in this unprecedented year. By Wednesday, students, teachers and staff were back in schools teaching and learning. I want to commend our school community for their responsiveness, flexibility, and commitment to meeting the needs of the community during these times.

At the end of the day, there is no challenge that the NOLA community can’t overcome together. Be it pandemics, hurricanes or anything in between – Together, we can do this.

Yours In Service,

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

I would like to start by sending my heartfelt thoughts to all members of the NOLA-PS community and our neighbors affected by Hurricane Zeta. This year has certainly brought its fair share of challenges, from the pandemic to a record hurricane season that has already seen five named storms hit our shores. But through every challenge that comes our way, this community comes together and weathers the storm.

Well before Hurricane Zeta made landfall, NOLA-PS’ emergency response systems jumped into gear, coordinating closely with the City, our schools and our community to respond quickly, provide guidance, and communicate school closures to families. As we recover from this storm, NOLA-PS will continue to maintain open lines of communications with and support schools and families across the District to prioritize the safety of our school community.

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month - a time to reflect on and raise awareness of young people impacted by the criminal justice system. As part of Youth Justice Awareness Month, I want to highlight some of the good work at the Travis Hill School, which operates inside the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center and Orleans Justice Center. This school provides teens and young adults with support and a top-notch education that is relevant, meaningful, and designed to help students re-engage with school, both while detained and upon release. And they are making gains! The Travis Hill School is the 4th ranked alternative school in the state and the only alternative school recognized as a 2019 Equity Honoree for its progress with historically disadvantaged students. I am most proud of our students at Travis Hill for making incredible and meaningful progress towards high school graduation despite the barrier of incarceration. These remarkable results are a testament to their determination and the tireless dedication of the Travis Hill schools’ educators who are by their side.

As we forge ahead into this school year, expanded COVID-19 testing remains a key part of our reopening - and remaining open - strategy. NOLA-PS is setting a national example when it comes to COVID-19 testing, and it’s all thanks to our amazing community members. Our concerted work with the Louisiana Department of Health and the City of New Orleans have made free tests available to our school community at sites around the city. We also have stood up mobile testing sites at certain school facilities to make it easier for students showing symptoms to be tested. And we are working on new partnerships and programs to track and contain COVID-19 in our school community that I hope to share with you soon. Meanwhile, we must keep up our vigilance, especially as we enter the holiday season. Getting tested has never been more important - just because you don’t feel sick, doesn’t mean you’re not sick. I strongly urge every member of our school community to help keep your friends, family and neighbors safe by getting tested. At the community-based sites – which you can find here: www.doineedacovid19test.com – these tests are free, they are quick, and they will help keep our school community healthy.

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

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

Every day, we’re seeing more students in classrooms, reuniting with their teachers, classmates and friends. The return to school certainly hasn’t been easy, but for the future success and development of our students - every step has been worth it.

When the pandemic hit, NOLA-PS laid out a comprehensive Roadmap to Reopening to guide us through these challenging times. That Roadmap has served us well - offering a foundation that we’ve built on to get our students access to the education they need, while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in our school community. Our measured approach is paying off and getting PreK through 12th grade students back into classrooms, while our COVID testing plan is helping the district keep track of the pandemic for the health and safety of our entire school community.

This past Monday, I was excited to host Louisiana State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley on a visit to schools across our district. Together, we stopped by Lake Forest Charter School, KIPP East, Benjamin Franklin Elementary, as well as Edna Karr High School to check in with students, teachers and school leaders.

Our visits were a reminder of just how innovative and forward-thinking each one of our schools really is. Together, we heard firsthand from our school community and discussed the challenges, lessons and successes of education today. We discussed the role of technology in 21st century education, and how it will play a greater role in how we teach going forward - pandemic or not. That’s why NOLA-PS along with our charter school leaders have prioritized closing the technology gap. Collectively, we’ve made a significant investment in providing thousands of laptops and internet connectivity devices to students that need it. And while we strongly believe that an in-person education is the best way to nurture the whole child, the realities of this pandemic mean that hybrid learning models will remain a critical part of how teachers teach and how students learn, something that we saw on full display at all of the schools we visited this week. Superintendent Brumley and I both walked away impressed by the ability of our teachers and students to adapt to and thrive in this new learning environment.

As a community, we’ve been doing an incredible job chipping in to do our part to keep our friends, neighbors, relatives and students safe. Let’s keep up the good work. Wear your mask with pride. Wash your hands. Remain socially distance whenever possible. And if you’re feeling sick, don’t forget to get tested and stay home.

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

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

For the first time since the spring, our schools are open for in-person learning for grades K-12. Watching students light up as they reunite with teachers and friends as they return to classrooms for the first time in months has filled me with incredible joy, and I am thrilled to welcome more students back each week. I had the honor to visit students and staff at Foundation Prep this week, where I could see smiles through the masks of students and teachers and was blown away by the efforts of our school community to get back to school in the safest way possible.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our community members, teachers, students, staff and principals. And speaking of our terrific principals, did you know that October is National Principals Month? In honor of NOLA-PS principals, I welcome all members of our community to join me in thanking our amazing principals and school leaders for the work they do day in and day out to give our students the best education possible. A principal’s job is never easy, but especially in the midst of this pandemic, they’ve been putting in extra hours and burning the candle at both ends to provide students with a good education during an unprecedented time.

This week also happens to be National School Lunch Week - a time when we highlight the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child’s life. But it’s not just about the importance of the meals themselves - but about the tireless efforts of our food service professionals, who have been working day in and day out to make sure healthy, nutritious meals are available to students. Throughout the pandemic, our food service staff kept working to ensure that even when learning was happening remotely, students could still access nutritious, packaged meals to fuel their learning. Many of these staff members have been with the district for decades, feeding our young learners and helping them achieve their dreams, one meal at a time. This week, let’s all send our heartfelt thanks to our food service professionals, and reflect on just how important nutrition is to the development of our children.

I’ve never been more proud of everyone in our schools for their contributions to our community. In the weeks and months ahead, let's all remember to continue to do our part to keep each other safe and healthy, and keep our students in their classrooms.

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

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

I had the good fortune to be there the day our youngest learners began to safely return to the classroom and reunite with their teachers and friends. It was an incredible moment and one I won’t soon forget. Since then, our community has continued to hold strong and take the necessary precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone in our school community, it’s time to begin the next step in our return to in-person learning - and that means getting our older students back to the classroom. That’s why I couldn’t be more excited to announce that as long as health data remains steady, starting next Monday, the 12th, district schools will begin once again opening up their doors to students in 5th - 12th grade. This is a day that has been months in the making - made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of teachers, students, families and NOLA-PS staff.

Similarly to when we began allowing our younger learners back to school, we are taking a measured approach, with a hybrid model that will combine in-person and virtual learning. Individual schools have already begun reaching out to families to announce their specific reopening plans, and more will begin sending notices in the coming days with individualized reopening dates and schedules that vary based on school class size, and available facilities. As we’ve said all along, health and safety are our top priority, which is why we are taking this deliberate and measured approach to our return to the classroom. Our schools have done an exceptional job maintaining strong health and safety standards to date, and we will continue working together to ensure that these standards are maintained as we enter the next chapter of our Roadmap to Reopening.

Before embarking on the return to in-person learning, NOLA-PS launched an acute testing plan to increase the ease, accessibility and frequency of testing for our school community. Thanks to that program, our students and staff are being given front-line service to COVID-19 testing if they are experiencing symptoms - a crucial part of our efforts to track the virus and keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. Testing sites have recently become available directly at some of our schools, providing even more direct access to safe and effective testing. We’re working to expand our testing program even further in the coming weeks, while continuing to take additional steps to stop the spread of the virus, including requiring face coverings, performing temperature checks, and enhanced cleaning of our classrooms, facilities and buses.

Let’s all continue to do our part to keep this momentum going, and stay on the path reuniting students, teachers, peers, teammates and mentors across all of our NOLA Public Schools. To our older students - I hope to see you in class starting next week!

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

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

With thousands of our youngest learners back in the classroom and the month of September in the rear view mirror, we have a lot to be thankful for as we look at the road ahead. First, our reopening plans are moving forward, as we plan to welcome students back to in-person learning in grades five through twelve later this month. And, a new month gives us all an opportunity to start fresh and plan for the future, while reflecting on what makes our community stronger and more vibrant each and every day.

For NOLA-PS, that strength and vibrance comes directly from our talented, caring and diverse staff that reflects the warm and welcoming NOLA community.

Today marks the halfway point of Hispanic Heritage Month, a period from September 15 - October 15 when we can all take time to celebrate and recognize the incredible contributions of Hispanic Americans to our communities, our history, our culture and our schools. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m encouraging all members of our school community to celebrate our Hispanic and Latinx students, teachers and staff, and learn more about their unique stories, cultures and history.

To help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, NOLA-PS sat down with some of our tremendous Hispanic and Latinx staff to highlight their stories and amazing contributions to our school community. Here’s what they had to say:

“Being able to utilize my resources to connect and help the Hispanic community, to me it’s just completely priceless” - Norma Martinez, a bilingual school choice advisor.

“Everything about being a Latina makes me proud. I grew up in a house raised by a single Honduran mother and seven siblings. Our food, music and our language are just a few things that I love about my culture...When my mother came to the United States back in the 1980’s she had to overcome many obstacles such as learning the English language. I’m proud to be able to bridge the language barrier that many Spanish-speaking families face each day,” - Shirley Hernandez, a Student Services Coordinator

“Being born and raised in Puerto Rico, I always dreamed of coming to the United States...Since I’ve been working with NOLA-PS, I feel my dreams have been coming true. I’ve been able to help many parents that are non-English-speaking. And the minute they hear me talk Spanish, I can hear a sigh of relief in their voice, because they know that they’re going to be helped.” Doran Nieto, Front Desk Receptionist

You can hear more from our amazing staff members by watching this video, HERE.

As we take a moment together to honor these incredible individuals in our community, I’d like to remind everyone to honor our students, teachers, faculty and staff by continuing to take precautions to keep our community safe.

Together, we can do this.

In Service,

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

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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