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10.08.2020 NOLA-PS Weekly COVID-19 Update

Grades 5th-12th to Reopen Monday. New COVID-19 Tracker on NOLA-PS website.

(New Orleans – October 8, 2020) – As students in grades 5 – 12 prepare to return to in-person learning beginning Monday, October 12, NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) remains committed to the health and safety of our school community.

In collaboration with its medical advisors and city health officials, the District has continued to track the citywide health trends to inform reopening plans. Beginning next week, schools will be moving forward with reopening plans to return to in-person learning as outlined in NOLA-PS’ Roadmap to Reopening.

Following the same measured approach that schools took as they welcomed back students in grades Pre-K – 4, schools will begin bringing our older students back to campuses in a staggered manner. Schedules for reopening will vary by school based on their plans, the sizes and amenities of their facilities, and their semester calendars. Per the Roadmap to Reopening, students in these grades will return to school on hybrid schedules, with a mix of in-person and distance learning, which will vary campus to campus.

“Our 5th through 12th grade students and educators are excited to be heading back to the classroom. Nothing can replace the learning and personal connections that occur inside the classroom between teachers and students,” said NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “In-person learning develops the whole child, academically and socially. It’s the reason the District is prioritizing in-person learning whenever possible. We are encouraging families to send their children to school if they feel comfortable and, of course, distance learning remains an option.”

The District plans to begin operating schools on October 12 under the Phase 3 guidelines established in the Roadmap, with some exceptions. For example, classroom size will be capped at 30 individuals, rather than the 50-person limit in Phase 3 as an extra precaution.

As the District has previously established, results of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our school community will be reported on a weekly basis. In tandem with our enhanced efforts to test more members of our school community, we have confirmed new cases of COVID-19. These new cases, however, remain a small fraction of our entire student body, teachers, and staff across the District.

“We were prepared for the trend we’re seeing, and I applaud our schools for taking appropriate steps when necessary to keep our children and educators as safe as possible,” Dr. Lewis said. “The low rate of positive tests remains encouraging, but rest assured, we will be vigilant and continue to support our schools as they adhere to the Roadmap.”

Our new COVID-19 Tracker can be found on the NOLA-PS website here. The District will update these data every Thursday at 4 p.m. throughout the pandemic.

NOLA-PS is ahead of the curve with coronavirus testing, compared to many school districts across the country. The District has established partnerships with LCMC Health Children’s Hospital and Ochsner Hospital for Children to provide frontline access to COVID-19 testing for students and staff experiencing symptoms. The testing is provided via a mix of mobile units, hospitals, and urgent care facilities.

Additionally, the District has worked with the Louisiana Department of Health to establish two additional surge testing locations in Orleans Parish to increase access for student and school-based staff to free COVID-19 testing. And the District continues to collaborate with all of the local health systems and national partners on how to increase access to regular testing moving forward. School-based staff also have access to LCMC Health’s Nurse Hotline for guidance on COVID-19 related situations and symptoms.


COVID-19 Cases
The District began tracking COVID-19 cases and quarantine requests on September 17. As of noon on Thursday, October 8, the District is tracking 12 active cases of COVID-19 among our school community’s students, staff, and teachers.

These data include positive cases reported for any student or staff member, regardless of where they contracted COVID-19. In one instance, for example, a single positive case associated with an extracurricular activity led to 1 other positive case and 71 individuals placed in precautionary quarantine.

Students, teachers, and staff in close contact with any confirmed case (defined as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) will be notified and asked to partake in a precautionary quarantine. This will require them to remain out of the classroom for a minimum of 14 days, per CDC guidelines.

The District is continuing to stay on top of updates, collaborate with state and local agencies, and work closely with our school leaders, task force, and community stakeholders to ensure a safe 2020-2021 school year.


Facilities COVID-19 Safety Inspections

NOLA-PS is working to ensure schools are safe for students, educators, and staff by conducting COVID-19 safety inspections. Inspections for all Elementary School facilities will be completed by October 9th. High School inspections will begin in mid-October or as students return to campus.


2020-2021 School Year Community Feeding Program Updates

While all schools offer daily meals to their currently enrolled students, many school locations have begun offering meals to any eligible student in the community whether they are enrolled in a District school or not. These sites that are providing the community feeding option may provide any student with a grab-and-go style breakfast and lunch.

For a list of available sites, please visit: https://nolapublicschools.com/covid19/nutrition

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ABOUT NOLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: NOLA Public Schools is the public school district for Orleans Parish, which includes the district’s elected school board, known as the Orleans Parish School Board and the district’s administration led by NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. NOLA Public Schools currently oversees 76 public schools.

For more information, visit www.nolapublicschools.com. For updates, follow NOLA Public Schools on Facebook @NOLAPublicSchools, Instagram @nolaps and Twitter @NOLAPSchools.

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