New Orleans school districts prepare for back-to-school

Some students prepare to return to schools, some as early as this week. School leaders are working hard to ensure students are protected against the pandemic.
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:53 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s another pandemic school year for students.

“I’m kind of nervous because I am going to a new school and because of COVID,” said 9-year-old Emmanuelle who is entering the fourth grade. “I don’t want to catch coronavirus because, well, just because.”

Parents also hope their children don’t catch the coronavirus.

“I don’t want them to get sick. All parents feel like this,” said Jada Oneal. Her children are looking forward to the school year, but she’s still a little concerned. “I think if we keep our masks up, we’ll be safe.”

Parents aren’t the only ones looking out. School officials are staying up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 data and making sure school safety measures are in place before doors open.

“It’s a scary time to be a parent you know. It’s a scary time to let your kids go to school,” said Lexi Pritchard, communications with St. Bernard Parish Schools. “We are prepared to quickly pivot based on the changing nature of this virus and we have made a promise to our families that we will keep them informed.”

Pritchard said the St. Bernard’s safety protocols when it comes to managing COVID-19 are in line with the state recommendations and Governor John Bel Edwards’ mandates. To view St. Bernard Parish’s return to school guidance, click here.

“70 percent of our staff are vaccinated,” said Pritchard. “There are specific isolation protocols in place where any student or staff member that is exhibiting symptoms need to be separated from others at all times and then they will go home. We are fortunate in St. Bernard Parish where we are able to offer our staff and our students with rapid testing so that we’re able to get a pulse on the situation and handling it very quickly.”

NOLA Public Schools are committed to returning to in-person learning this school year, like many other districts in other parishes. To view the NOLA Public School COVID vaccine sites, click here. For back to school guidance, click here.

“Every year our kids have to go through this pandemic and whether we’re talking about virtual learning, hybrid, we know it is impacting them academically and we are talking about our future,” said Superintendent of NOLA Public Schools Dr. Henderson Lewis.

Virtual learning will only be made available on a medical-need basis and with a doctor’s note.

InspireNOLA Charter School system is also remaining cautious as school begins for many students.

“All of our students and staff are wearing masks. We’re roughly three feet away from each other in the desks. Teachers are following precautions with hand sanitizer as students walk to class,” said Chief Executive Officer for InspireNOLA Jamar McKneely.

InspireNOLA is also following the guidelines and procedures for COVID-19 safety set by New Orleans Public Schools and the CDC.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans sent parents a letter on back-to-school guidance saying:

“Regardless of vaccination status, all faculty, staff, and visitors to our school campuses must wear a facial covering while indoors on campus. In addition, per the most recent Orleans Parish mandate, students ages three and above must wear a facial covering while indoors on campus. In all other civil parishes (i.e. Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, St. Tammany and Washington parishes) students ages five and above must wear a facial covering while indoors on campus.”

But when it comes to the classrooms, a majority of school districts agree-- in-person instruction is vital to the success of students.

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