NOLA public schools returning to distance learning due to ‘very concerning spike’ in COVID-19 cases

Updated: Jan. 11, 2021 at 6:31 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Students and teachers will not return to classrooms in Orleans Parish, officials announced Monday, Jan. 4.

School leaders say the decision was made due to a “very concerning spike in the prevalence of COVID-19 in New Orleans.”

School leaders were instructed Monday to move all Pre-K-12 classes to distance learning no later than Thursday, Jan. 7, to give parents, guardians, and families some time to adjust their schedules. NOLA-PS will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and trends and reevaluate this decision no sooner than Jan. 21, in hopes that the local trend in positivity rates and case counts improves.

The City’s data tracking the pandemic showed a significant jump in the rate of positive cases over the past few days, indicating a worsening trend -- one of several metrics NOLA-PS considered in order to make this grave but necessary decision.

Officials say this latest decision was driven by data and the advice of our public health experts.

“All along, we have taken a very measured approach as we respond to the shifting circumstances of this pandemic,” NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. said. “Citywide data over the past few days has shown a dramatic uptick in positivity rates, and so, based upon the advice of our health advisors, we felt we had to make the very unfortunate but necessary decision to return to distance learning to keep our students, staff, teachers and community safe. We recognize this will be extremely difficult for our families and hope that everyone takes the necessary precautions to reverse the spread of this terrible virus. I want all of us across NOLA Public Schools to stay close and be in constant communication as we tackle this next challenge. We’re one team, and we’ll get through this together.”

Parents say they were caught a little off-guard, now having to make other arrangements for their students.

“You know we have work and we’re trying to get back into working, but with the schools and the back-and-forth with the virtual and in-class learning, it’s a sticky situation you don’t know what to expect so you just have to play it by ear basically,” said parent, David Woods.

“We know they’re old enough, that this is the best thing health wise, but obviously they’re still kids and they want to see their friends,” said Pam Kocke.

Parents and families are urged to contact their schools regarding their campus-specific, distance-learning transition plans. Likewise, NOLA-PS has compiled several online resources for parents to access during distance learning.

The state reported an additional 1,190 cases of coronavirus and 48 new deaths Monday. Over 1,800 patients are in hospitals, with 207 of them requiring a ventilator.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Latoya Cantrell rescinded furloughs for NOPD, EMS, and other departments as COVID-19 cases surge.

Vaccination efforts continue. The Louisiana Department of Health released a list of pharmacies statewide that will be administering the vaccine to persons over the age of 70.

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