Outside Frederick Douglass High School Thursday afternoon, a flatbed truck full of generators was buzzing, hooked up to dehumidifiers and post-Ida necessities inside the St. Claude Avenue building. The school suffered water damage in the powerful Category 4 storm and, like much of the rest of the city, was without power for days. Now he is preparing to reopen for students, although it is not yet clear when that will happen.
Metro schools in the New Orleans area end their second week of school closures due to storm damage from powerful Hurricane Ida, which left an estimated 1 million electrical customers – including homes, businesses and schools – without electricity. Although efforts to recover and restore electricity improved over the past week, schools remained closed as NOLA public school district officials assessed the damage, school staff or contractors cleaned up. kitchen freezers and teachers and students were returning from their own evacuations.
Public schools in St. Tammany Parish will open on September 13, as will public schools in St. Bernard Parish. Jefferson Parish, which suffered more damage in the storm, is reopening in phases, The Times-Picayune reported on Friday. Thirty-one schools in Jefferson Parish will reopen this month. 41 others will reopen on October 1. Three schools in the hard-hit parish of Lower Jefferson will be closed indefinitely.
NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said he expects the “majority” of district schools to open between September 15 and 22 – although a few principals have announced that they could not open their campuses due to damage. Instead, they will start virtually.
Douglass is one of them, said Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, CEO of KIPP New Orleans Schools, which operates Douglass and seven other charter schools in the city.
“Douglass is starting virtually, all other schools will start in person,” she said of the eight-school network. “It goes through a major drying process with all kinds of commercial equipment. “
Douglass is one of the city’s many campuses dealing with water damage and other storms.
Broken windows on Douglass’ second and third floors resulted in a water intrusion that affected lower floors, district officials said earlier this week, and a city-wide blackout resulted in days without electricity or environmental control in the renovated high school during scorching heat.
Before students return to a campus, NOLA’s public school district operations manager Tiffany Delcour said it will need to be inspected.
“Before a student returns to a building, we will have an environmental health clearance,” Delcour said at a press conference earlier this week.
Delcour said about a quarter of school buildings suffered damage and about half were restored earlier this week. That number has likely increased since then, as Entergy New Orleans had made strides, having now restored 98% of the city’s electricity.
Bricolage Academy, on Esplanade Avenue, also had water intrusion issues and lost its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in part of the building.
“We cannot have a safe in-person school due to the damage to our HVAC system and the suspicion of mold in some water damaged areas of our building,” principal Antigua Wilbern told The Lens. “HVAC repairs are already underway, our building is being dehumidified and the first of two rounds of required mold testing is underway.
In an email to the families, Wilbern described the damage, including the loss of air conditioning in the auditorium, cafeteria and the second and third floors on one side of the building. Nine classrooms suffered water damage and she wrote that there could be “potential microbial growth (mold) in water damaged areas.” These areas will be tested before the students return, she wrote.
Bricolage will begin virtual education on September 20. Students will be able to collect the necessary technological equipment on September 17th. The school also added four school days to make up for lost learning time and converted two half days to full days. State law requires that schools provide a minimum number teaching minutes each year.
“I cannot provide an exact date when we will resume in-person learning at this time, as we now have to wait for environmental clearance. We will update our families on the progress every week, ”she said. “These are tough times, but the Bricolage Trojan community is strong and resilient and we will continue to get through this together.”
At Lusher Charter School, students in grades 6 to 12 will begin virtual lessons on September 15, after the building assessment is complete. A spokesperson for the school said students at the Willow St. campus, kindergarten to grade five, will resume face-to-face teaching on September 15.
Other schools have suffered little or no damage and are now preparing for the return of students next week or the following week.
Firstline CEO Sabrina Pence said all of its six school programs are scheduled to reopen in person on September 20. The network is demanding a negative COVID-19 test for students to return to school.
“We were very lucky,” she wrote on Friday.
At Crescent City schools, staff will return on September 20 and students will be welcomed on September 22. InspireNOLA CEO Jamar McKneely said he plans to start school in person on Thursday. Two of the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans campuses can return virtually while one will be in person. School officials said they follow the elimination of molds.
Families should check with their individual schools for return information. The NOLA Public School District does not have a centralized list of return dates from schools.
The school district is encouraging staff and students to take COVID-19 tests before returning to school. Schools can offer testing to students, and the district is also hosting three community testing events next week.
Community testing sites will be hosted at the Hynes’ Lakeview campus on September 15, Landry High School on September 16, and Abramson Sci Academy on September 17. Each test site will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bricolage will also offer tests to students and their families on September 13 and 16.