Education, Family Life, Health

Roadmap to Reopening NOLA Public Schools

July 2, 2020

The Roadmap outlines a phased approach with clear standards for all schools to adhere to when implementing their school-specific plans for next year

NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) has released its Roadmap to Reopening Schools for the upcoming academic year. The Roadmap outlines a common approach for how and when all NOLA-PS schools’ will provide instruction across various scenarios, based upon the City of New Orleans’ reopening phases and guidelines set by the Louisiana Department of Education, and defines a set of health and safety standards that all schools will be expected to implement as school buildings reopen. The plan was informed by months of listening to community stakeholders, the NOLA-Public Schools Reopening Task Force; the findings of community stakeholder survey; coordination with school leaders; advice from medical experts, and local, state, and federal health guidelines.

The Roadmap prioritizes the health and safety of students, staff, and families; maximizes in-person student learning; provides flexibility to meet the varied needs of families; and creates citywide consistency in standards and expectations. Given the priority on student and staff safety, specific safety precautions include: required face coverings for staff and students, frequent handwashing, temperature checks upon arrival, and enhanced cleaning of classrooms, facilities, and buses.

Additionally, the plan calls for NOLA-PS schools to offer a mix of in-person and distance learning, based upon the status of the City of New Orleans’ reopening phases, prioritizing in-person instruction, especially for our youngest students with PreK through 4th grade returning to classrooms daily, citywide in Phase 2. Additional school-based plans will vary, within the framework provided, given the school’s enrollment, staffing and other factors, such as transportation capacity. Parents should hear from their respective schools on what their plans are, aligned to the Roadmap, starting the week of July 6th.

“Thank you to all of our students and families who have waited patiently to receive our reopening plan. I also want to thank and acknowledge the hard work of the District staff, the Reopening Task Force and our partners – all of whom have been working diligently to determine all of the safest ways to return to campus for the upcoming school year under state and local health guidelines,” said Orleans Parish School Board President Ethan Ashley. “A top priority of the District during this time is to ensure the health and well-being of our students, teachers, staff, and families by setting the proper standards and maintaining accountability for all of our schools. And we will also work with our school leaders to ensure that all students are served equitably across the District, whether they are in the classroom or at home.”

NOLA Public Schools will consult with the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department on a regular basis to assess public health data and the City’s progress towards critical health milestones to determine if any alterations to the Roadmap are needed at any point this school year. Given the fluid nature of COVID-19 in our community, adjustments to the return to school model may be required.
Specifications for each phase are detailed and include guidance on number of people allowed in rooms at one time, cleaning protocols, bus capacities, and more but highlights for each include:

Phase 1:

• School buildings will not be open; all schools will offer distance learning only

Phase 2:

• PreK-4 grade will return to school full time
• Grades 5-8 will receive a mix of in-person and distance learning, with some grades attending daily, based upon school capacity.
• Grades 9-12 will receive at minimum 2 days of in-person instruction weekly
• Students with most critical special needs may attend school full time regardless of grade level
• Schools will offer distance learning on a quarterly basis for all families not ready to return to in-person learning
• Face coverings required for all students and staff members

Phase 3:

• Schools will follow Phase 2 model. If a school can accommodate additional grades on-site they may
• Face coverings required for all students and staff members

“We believe the Roadmap provides our school community with a clear and strong foundation to guide our collective work in serving the children of Orleans parish this coming school year and NOLA-PS stands ready to support our educators as they prepare to open school campuses in the safest manner possible” said NOLA-PS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “During such challenging times, I am thankful for coordination across our schools, advice of our health experts, and honest and thoughtful feedback from students, families and teachers which directly informed our plans. As we learn what additional steps may be needed to respond to the virus from health experts, we will adjust our plans as needed. We will do everything in our power to help keep staff, students and their families safe.”

“NOLA Public Schools has put forth a comprehensive Roadmap to Reopening,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I appreciate the thought and care that went into this plan that prepares for every possible scenario. It’s imperative that we continue to work together, especially during this changing landscape, to ensure students and teachers, as well as their families, are as safe as possible this upcoming school year.”

“Requiring face coverings for staff and older children, limiting large groups and gatherings, and strict sanitation on school campuses are simple but critical steps we can take for preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said New Orleans Department of Health Director Jennifer Avegno, MD. “We need to be doing everything possible to ensure students and teachers feel safe when then return to school.”

Educators will be on the forefront of serving students and much is being asked of them this coming school year. The District fully stands behind teachers and will continue to take steps to support them as they take on essential role in serving our students. Specific actions include building a plan with the City of New Orleans to ensure teachers and other school-based staff have regular and prioritized access to COVID-19 testing and partnering with New Orleans Children’s hospital to provide training to teachers and other school-based staff on safety precautions.

NOLA-PS will also be building a set of supplemental guidance and resources for schools to access when implementing aspects of the plan. Such guidance will include exemplar safety protocols, guidance for serving special education students and other high-needs populations in distance learning and addressing the social and emotional needs of students and staff. Such tools will begin to be available in mid-July on the District’s website.

To keep the community informed as the school year begins, Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. will give regular, public updates on COVID-19 specific to schools, share news on the status of the implementation of the Roadmap, any needed adjustments, and other pertinent news regarding COVID-19’s impact on our schools.

To access the Reopening Roadmap, click here.

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