NEW ORLEANS – On Thursday, the Orleans Parish School Board released a statement regarding their continuing efforts to maintain the success of the school system for students, families, educators, staff, and community.
Although school campuses will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, education must continue to be a top priority.
Read the full letter below.
During these uncertain times, I pray that you and your families are safe and in good health. I am encouraged by the resilience and steadfast leadership of our community. My partner reminds me that sometimes stepping up requires stepping back in uncertain times to listen and learn. Listening to the stories of our community working collectively to flatten the curve and learning alongside all of you on how best to support our students, their families and all those that contribute to creating the best possible learning environment for our youth is truly inspiring.
You are doing your part as a community to ensure the long-term success of our city, and as President of the Orleans Parish School Board I want to ensure you that we are working during this pandemic to ensure the short- and long-term success of our system for our students, families, educators, support staff and community. As we contribute to managing the public health crisis, we are committed to conducting the business of serving the needs of our students and schools in a way that aligns with public health guidance and safety of our community. We are committed to ensuring that our District is:
- Meeting the immediate needs of our students, families, educators and support staff;
- Being transparent as we continue to move the long-term goals of the District; and
- Working with other government, non-profit, for-profit and philanthropy organizations to continue securing the resources necessary to grow the impact of our District.
As we face the challenges of this pandemic, our District is focused on ensuring that our students are receiving proper nutrition, have access to the internet and electronic equipment during time away from our school buildings, and are supporting our schools to provide mental health services to our students. I am proud to say that our District led the state with our investment of $5 million dollars to purchase hotspots and Chromebooks to ensure that all of our students can participate in distance learning. We led the state in standing up 43 feeding sites for our students – serving more than 660,000 meals to date. We are committed to working alongside the whole community to meet the current challenges presented by this pandemic for our students and families.
As such, we have put together both a community resource and COVID-19 update page for students and families that provide information on the following:
- Distance Learning Resources for Families
- Behavioral and Mental Health Support
- Food Pantry and Community Feeding Locations
- Job Opportunities
- Utilities Support
- Donations and Volunteer Support
- Rent/mortgage assistance
- Unemployment Assistance
While our first priorities are safety and addressing the needs of our students, families and educators during this pandemic, we are also committed to continuing our efforts to improve our District.
We recognize and are committed to transparency in service of the students, families, school administrative and support staff of OPSB and are taking the following actions:
- Publishing our agenda earlier than legally required to ensure that our community has additional time to review our agenda.
- Allowing our community members the opportunity to email their comments on a particular agenda action prior to the meeting at this email address:
These comments will be reflected in our official board minutes. This is being allowed in addition to the usual public comment policy to ensure maximum public participation in virtual meetings being held during this pandemic.
Our school board is committed to do the work that we are elected to do and will work alongside the community to ensure proper time and opportunity for everyone to participate in creating the best outcomes possible during this challenging time for the students, families, administrative and support staff and educators of OPSB.
Partnerships continue to be a critical pathway to our success. OPSB is at its best when working alongside students and families, members of the community, faith-based and community-based organizations, government partners, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and with one another. I am grateful for the many partners who have already stepped up to support our students, educators, support and administrative staff and community.
Our philanthropic partners have provided over $500,000 of aid to support our technology needs of our students.
Our private communications companies have provided free and reduced internet for our families and students to connect.
Individual city councilmembers like Jared Brossett have donated Proper Protective Equipment for our educators who are providing food through our citywide feeding program.
This shared unity of mission to work together and secure the resources needed to improve the living and learning environments for our students and families is vital during these times. I look forward to continuing to lead efforts on behalf of our District to build partnerships that result in resources.
What I am clear about in this moment is that our children not only need but deserve our very best effort to meet the challenge of serving all of our students well in a pandemic. As board President, I am committed to meeting the challenges offered by COVID-19 for our students, families, and educators; and I hope you will join and support my leadership in this unprecedented time.
Orleans Parish School Board President