NEW ORLEANS — On Wednesday morning, New Orleans Public Schools (NOLA-PS) held a press briefing to discuss the COVID-19 response. After monitoring declining trends in the state, local and school-based data, NOLA-PS announced that elementary and middle schools can return to in-person learning on Monday, Feb. 1.
“I am pleased to see our metrics continue to trend in the right direction,” NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. said. “I want to thank our parents, teachers, staff and students for their perseverance in these challenging times. I would also like to thank New Orleans residents and businesses because without your willingness to mask up, stay socially distanced, and limit interactions with each other, we would not have the option we have today to move our youngest learners back where they belong: in the classroom face-to-face with their teachers and side-by-side with their friends.”
Important trends, such as those in positive test rates and new daily case counts, have steadily declined or stabilized since spiking at the start of January. The positive test rate trend in New Orleans Wednesday, Jan. 27, was approximately 3 percent and the trending daily new case count was at 140 – down from a peak of 266 on Jan. 8.
Dr. Lewis and his team will continue to monitor the data trends with the hope to return high school students – grades 9 through 12 – to their hybrid model of learning starting Feb. 22, after the Mardi Gras break.
Meanwhile, high schools will be allowed Monday to provide in-person learning to small groups of students – 15 or fewer – who may benefit the most from classroom instruction. These include students such as those with special education needs, those who are habitually disengaged, among others that school leadership may deem eligible for this instruction method.
Parents, guardians, students and school families are encouraged to contact their schools for site-specific details on reopening.
NOLA-PS has instructed schools to continue to follow the safety protocols laid out in the Roadmap to Reopening, including entranceway temperature checks, required mask wearing, ample access to hand sanitizer, social distancing and regular cleanings of classrooms and facilities. These efforts are a major reason schools are some of the safest places for children to be when community spread of the virus outside the classroom is moderate to low.