NOLA Public Schools

5 Things to Know as NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) Shifts to Distance Learning

NEW ORLEANS – (January 6, 2021) – NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) is committed to providing high quality education to all its students while protecting the health and safety of our community of schools during this unprecedented pandemic. Since March 2020, we have taken a measured, data-driven approach to balancing these priorities, a process that our Jan. 4 decision to shift to distance learning for all schools demonstrates.

While extremely difficult, we are prepared for this. And together we will get through this. The work of the District and school leaders last summer and the guidelines within the Roadmap to Reopening are testaments to that. Building on that work, NOLA-PS would like to provide families with a few answers to some of the larger questions around distance learning as we work diligently toward once again reopening our classrooms to our students as soon as possible.

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1. Why move all schools to distance learning now?

Throughout this pandemic, NOLA-PS has relied on citywide data and other key factors to monitor the COVID-19 impact on New Orleans and our community of schools. These metrics include such indicators as trends in the daily average of new confirmed cases, the daily positivity rate, and the availability of COVID-19 testing, among others.

Over the holiday break, NOLA-PS continued to review these metrics in consultation with city health officials and our medical advisers, even as schools were closed. The citywide daily rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 (the positivity rate) remained relatively flat during that time, allowing NOLA-PS on Dec. 29 to consider all its pandemic-tracking metrics and decide to preserve in-person learning as the best option for its students.  Soon after that decision, however, the positivity rate began rising at a concerning rate that continued through Sunday, Jan. 3, when it reached approximately 9 percent. On Monday, Jan. 4, NOLA-PS leadership evaluated this short but disturbing trend with our medical advisers and decided to shift to distance learning for the health and safety of all NOLA-PS students and school staff.

NOLA Public Schools COVID Positive Test Rate

2. What resources are available to families?

Knowing the disruption to families’ daily lives that this decision would mean, NOLA-PS did not make it lightly and is committed to the continued provision of resources for our school community. While parents and families should contact their schools regarding their campus-specific, distance-learning transition plans, NOLA-PS also compiled several online resources for parents to access during distance learning at https://nolapublicschools.com/covid19/parentresources.

Below is a set of additional resources available for families.

  • Child Nutrition: The following locations will serve meals free of charge to children under the age of 18, regardless of what school they are enrolled in. Please note that distribution times vary. Visit the NOLA-PS website for specific site information: https://nolapublicschools.com/covid19/nutrition.
  • City of New Orleans Meal Assistance Program: To sign your child up to have meals delivered at home please visit https://nola311.org/ and look for the meal assistance program registration.

3. What if my student has special needs best addressed by in-person learning?

Schools will be permitted to accommodate in-person instruction for special populations under reduced class sizes, or provide in-person instruction for younger students, Pre-K-5, in smaller groups of no more than 15. Families should contact their schools for site-specific information.

4. When will NOLA-PS return to in-person learning?

As we have since August, NOLA-PS will continue to track the pandemic’s trending data and consult with its health advisers and school leaders with the goal of returning to in-person learning as soon as possible. No decision will be made, however, until we see a marked and sustained improvement in the metrics. As a result, Jan. 21 will be the earliest we reevaluate our decision on distance learning.

5. Where can I find the data NOLA-PS uses to inform its decision-making?

NOLA-PS uses a combination of data collected by the City of New Orleans and its COVID-19 dashboard, Louisiana Department of Health, and our own NOLA-PS COVID-19 Tracker.

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

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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