School districts hammered by Hurricane Ida don’t know when they can reopen

Districts that are closed until further notice include New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and a handful in neighboring Mississippi
By: | August 31, 2021
(Brian McGowan/Unsplash)(Brian McGowan/Unsplash)

Students in New Orleans schools woke up this week not knowing when they will be back in school as their district is closed ‘indefinitely’ due to vast power outages and other damage caused by Hurricane Ida.

“With broad power outages, it is unclear at this time when school will resume,” NOLA Public Schools posted on social media. “The District will work with school leaders to assess any damages to buildings and plan for when students can return to class.”

Leaders in Jefferson Parish Schools, which stretches west and south of New Orleans, were also unsure Tuesday when the district could reopen. They were clear that they cannot shift to remote learning, administrators announced on the district’s website.

Administrators are surveying the damage to district campuses and surveying the well-being of students, employees and families. Jefferson Parish officials have asked citizens who evacuated prior to Hurricane Ida not to return until further notice due to power outages, debris and other hazards, the district noted.

“We will continue to remain in constant communications with employees, families and our stakeholders,” Superintendent James Gray said. “Along with assessing our buildings, we want to understand where our people are, what supports they need, and what are the best steps forward as we rebuild, recover and reopen. We will do everything we can to reopen our schools as quickly as we can.”

Several other districts remained closed until further notice on Tuesday:

According to KATC.com, the districts in the following parishes reopened Tuesday: Acadia, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette Parish, St. Martin and St. Landry.

A number of districts—including Iberville, St. Martin and West Baton Rouge—were closed Tuesday and had not yet determined whether they would open on Sept. 1.

The East Baton Rouge, Vermillion parish school systems planned to reopen on Wednesday.

In Mississippi, which escaped the worst of the hurricane, several districts were closed or conducted virtual learning on Tuesday but planned to reopen Wednesday, according to various reports.

Many school districts in Alabama were closed or on virtual learning Tuesday as Ida, which had weakened into a tropical depression, moved through that state’s northwestern corner.