Hurricane Ida Updates
Jefferson Parish Schools values open, honest communications with all stakeholders. This is especially true during times of crisis. This page includes the regular updates JP Schools leaders have shared with families and employees in relation to Hurricane Ida.
Latest Update | October 5: Superintendent's Update
Dear JP Schools Family,
With the reopening of our tier 3 schools Friday, the vast majority of our children are now back on campus participating in face-to-face instruction. The sentiment at the schools I visited Friday was similar to the first day back for our tier 1 and tier 2 schools. Children happy to be back, educators excited to have them back, and everyone coming together to make the best of a challenging situation. The progress we have achieved together is remarkable - especially given the extensive damage to our aging facilities and Hurricane Ida’s impact on the lives of so many employees and families.
Condition of our Buildings
Recovering from a hurricane is a process. Reopening schools is a major step in that process for our system. Our schools are safe., but it’s important to understand our buildings will not be back to normal overnight. Where there are temporary repairs today, our operations team is working to make those permanent. This work will take place outside of school hours so it doesn’t disrupt instructional time. We’re following processes and protocols set by FEMA, similar in some ways to what you may experience when repairing your own home. A big difference for our school system is that we are going through this process for around 800 buildings across our nearly 80 campuses. Please continue to practice patience, grace, and flexibility as we move forward together.
Engaging and connecting with our stakeholders on a continuous basis is key to our success. That’s true whether or not we are in times of crisis. Strong schools build strong communities, and it is important that we put stakeholders at the forefront of our decisions, especially those impacting students. I’ve reopened the application window for my five Superintendent’s Councils involving parents, students, teachers, principals, and special education stakeholders. Applications are available at jpschools.org/councils until October 10.
With all schools soon to be reopened, this will be my final weekly Hurricane Ida update. I hope these weekly updates have been informative, helpful, and - at times - uplifting over the past month. Please continue to stay connected to our regular communications channels for new announcements and information.
Just like last school year, we cannot be content to simply “have” school. We have a collective opportunity to positively impact student learning. The adjustments to our calendar are far more than just a logistical necessity to meet a state mandate. They ensure our educators have the time needed to keep students on track. Every member of the Jefferson Parish Schools family is important to the recovery of our community and to the recovery of our students. Our kids need us.
Dr. James Gray
Previous Hurricane Ida Updates
Update #18 | September 28: Superintendent's Update
Dear JP Schools Family,
I visited schools on both sides of the river Friday, and it was uplifting to see kids back in the classroom and hear feedback directly from employees. Teachers and staff at every school I visited commented on how glad they were to be back. Most importantly, I observed students learning in safe, welcoming environments.
Last week, we reopened 30 schools. This Friday, we expect to welcome back children at our 42 tier 3 schools. If you need a list of these schools, visit jpschools.org/IdaReopen. When we first presented this plan, we emphasized it could change based on shifts in our contractor’s timeline or due to the discovery of additional damages. Last night, we hosted a town hall for families and employees of Ray St. Pierre Academy. We discovered damages at their campus in Westwego that will keep their school building closed until further notice. Ruppel Academie Francaise and Gretna No. 2 Academy families and employees are welcoming St. Pierre Academy onto their campuses in Gretna. All St. Pierre Academy grades except kindergarten will share a campus with Ruppel Academy. Due to the limited number of available first floor classrooms at Ruppel, St. Pierre Academy’s kindergarten classes will share a campus with Gretna No. 2 Academy.
Since Hurricane Ida impacted our community, a number of individuals and organizations have expressed interest in supporting our recovery efforts. We are grateful for this outpouring of support for our students, employees, and families. Donation sites have been established on both sides of the river for those who would like to support the recovery efforts of our children and educators. These sites will remain open until October 8. You can learn more at jpschools.org/IdaHelp.
Teachers, support staff, and administrators are more than just appreciative to be back. They are motivated to move our children forward despite these unexpected circumstances. We don’t know every hurdle that will present itself as we recover from a major hurricane in the midst of a global pandemic. What we do know is that while this school year may be challenging, we have the people in place to succeed. Let’s continue to be the champions our kids deserve.
Dr. James Gray
Update #17 | September 23: Superintendent's Update
Dear JP Schools Family,
We’re beginning to see a sense of normalcy in the school year, and I hope that is also true of your own personal recovery from Hurricane Ida. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced that Airline Park Academy and Gretna No. 2 Academy are two of just 325 schools in the US recognized as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Both are among Louisiana’s highest performing schools. This is a testament to the levels of excellence made possible in JP Schools by educators, support staff, administrators, and board members driven by a student-first mindset. Even in the most challenging of times, we find a way for children.
Students return to our 21 tier 2 schools Friday morning. I’m looking forward to visiting some of these schools tomorrow. Not only is it a great way to close the week, but it’s important for me to be onsite so I can better understand concerns and answer questions from employees and families. Students at our 42 tier 3 schools are scheduled to return October 1. Remember that you can find the most updated list of our tiers at jpschools.org/IdaReturn.
Lafitte and Grand Isle Reopening Plans
Our three schools in Lafitte and Grand Isle received the most severe damage from Hurricane Ida. The Kerner Elementary, Fisher Middle-High and Grand Isle School buildings will be closed until further notice. Over the past week, we’ve shared return plans with employees and families at these schools. I’d like to share these now with you.
Our nearly 130 K-12 students at Grand Isle School will participate in remote learning. With many Grand Isle employees and families still displaced, this temporary solution allows us to resume teaching and learning as soon as possible. We are working on a plan for students and employees to pick up technology. Our hope is that we can begin remote learning on October 1 along with the rest of the tier 3 schools.
Both Lafitte schools will operate on shared campuses. Kerner Elementary is being welcomed by Truman School, and Fisher Middle-High is being welcomed by John Ehret High. This provides the greatest sense of normalcy, as it allows Lafitte students to remain with their siblings, classmates, teachers, counselors, support staff, and administrators. Temporarily housing Kerner and Fisher at these specific campuses also allow all four schools to continue to operate independently. Each will have their own school time, campus location, classes, lunch, and extracurricular activities. Our hope is that Kerner and Fisher students can begin classes in early October, and we will continue to update those employees and families about a start date.
Thank you to the employees, families, and students of Truman School and John Ehret High for demonstrating love and support for those in JP Schools most severely impacted by this natural disaster. As Louisianans, we know how to take care of each other in times of crisis.
I hope these weekly updates have been informative and useful. Starting next week, I will provide one weekly update on Tuesdays as we resume more normal operations. Keeping you informed and maintaining an open line of communications are pivotal to our continued success moving forward.
Dr. James Gray
Update #16 | September 21: Superintendent's Update
Dear JP Schools Family,
Monday we were able to open our nine tier 1 schools to kids, and you have been a huge part of that process. Whether it’s our operations team braving the elements since day one to set the foundation for getting our schools back, educators and staff selflessly recreating welcoming environments for students, or the countless employees, families, and community members whose words and actions uplifted colleagues during their time of need, there is not enough time in the day to talk about the work you did. Thank you.
Adjusted Calendar Approved
Last night, the school board approved revisions to our 2021-22 academic calendar. These adjustments allow us to meet the state’s requirement of instructional minutes following closures due to Hurricane Ida. Board members approved the calendar that received the most votes in last week’s public survey, which is option B. You can download the full calendar by tier at jpschools.org/calendar.
The new calendar adjustments reduce two days each from fall break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, and Mardi Gras break. Three days are reduced from spring break. In addition, September 24, January 4, and February 18 are now student report days. The last day of school for students is May 26 for tier 1, June 2 for tier 2, and June 9 for tier 3.
Board members, district leaders, and I each visited our tier 1 schools Monday. Based on my personal experience and feedback from our team, kids were happy to be back and our teachers, support staff, and administrators created positive environments. Seeing educators at school welcoming kids back with open arms was a great sight. Although some of our buildings are still in need of minor aesthetic repairs, the fact that they are safe and we are able to receive kids is a step in the right direction.
Our 21 tier 2 schools are scheduled to welcome students back this Friday. You can find a list of all our tiers and more reopening information at jpschools.org/idareopen. The recent inclement weather caused issues at some schools, but as of now our contractor has not issued any delays on when we expect to gain access to our remaining schools. If that happens, we will notify staff and families as soon as possible. We want to make sure final details are completed before you return.
Remember, this is a process that has to continuously account for circumstances that are out of our control. The goal is not perfection and plans may change. Those are moments to learn, adjust, and move ahead. It took a collective effort from all of us to get this point, and that continued collaboration is critical as we move forward together.
Dr. James Gray
Update #15 | September 16: Superintendent's Update
Dear JP Schools Family,
Yesterday, school leaders began returning to our buildings. Today, teachers and staff at our tier 1 schools returned to prepare for Monday’s reopening. By the end of next week, we expect almost half of our schools to be open. In a little more than two weeks, we hope to be fully operational. While this timeline may change due to repair delays or other factors outside of our control, this is all just weeks removed from one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever hit our state. As educators, we know how to rise above obstacles. We will continue to move forward in Jefferson Parish Schools.
Condition of Schools
I’ve appreciated working with teachers, staff, and administrators to develop proactive solutions as they’ve returned to schools and administration buildings this week. The opportunity to come together has been an emotional lift. As you return to your building, don’t be surprised to find areas still in need of minor repairs and attention. Contractors are approving buildings as they meet safety, environmental, and operational standards. With this in mind, please note that although our buildings are safe, they may still require attention after reopening.
Please take a moment to complete our calendar survey before the deadline Friday at noon. We’ve taken your feedback to develop three calendar options. I understand families and employees use the school calendar to plan vacations, appointments, and other events important to their personal lives. That’s why we want to make these adjustments as soon as possible. The deadline for this survey is tighter because we want to bring it for Board approval at the September 20 meeting.
The calendar was developed by the same calendar committee that develops our regular academic calendar. This committee is composed of a wide-range of stakeholders, which provides insight into how our calendar choices impact children, employees, families, and the community. It’s common for there to be disagreements about our annual calendar, and that certainly may be the case now as we make adjustments due to a natural disaster. We’ve included these differing viewpoints into our proposed adjustments and maintained our focus to safely engage kids in quality instruction.
Instructional Minutes Waiver
I want to clear up any confusion on an instructional minutes waiver. School systems do not have the authority to waive instructional minutes. This is done by the governor, at the request of the state. The state has shared with us that our current circumstance does not meet the requirements for a waiver. The state mandates a minimum number of instructional minutes students must meet each school year. An additional five days worth of minutes was originally built into our calendar this year, and we have far exceeded that cushion as our schools will be closed for at least 14-23 days due to Hurricane Ida.
JP Schools Donations Webpage
Many individuals and organizations have expressed interest in supporting our recovery efforts. We are grateful for this support and are making it easier for stakeholders to support our children, employees, and families. This week we launched a page on our website with online forms for donations, as well as a list of needed supplies.
I’ll close with news that has been well received and reminds us why our work matters. Thirty-two JP Schools students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. This honor places them among the top 1% of high school seniors in the nation. Twenty students were awarded from Haynes Academy and 12 received the honor from Patrick F. Taylor Academy. You can see a full list of our semifinalists on our website. I am proud of our students for not only receiving this distinguished academic award but also for setting a strong precedent for their collegiate career. This academic achievement will serve as a framework for success in their future endeavors and would not be possible without the support of our JP Schools family.
Thank you for your dedication to our children. We all play a role in moving our students and our community forward.
Dr. James Gray
Update #14 | September 15: JP Schools Hurricane Ida Adjustments Calendar Survey Open Until Friday at Noon
You can now vote among three calendar options for the remainder of this school year. In order to have our school board consider the new calendar at the September 20 meeting, the deadline for this survey is Friday, September 17 at noon.
Earlier this week (September 13-15), we shared an online survey seeking stakeholder input on the type of adjustments they would prefer to the academic calendar in order to make up for lost instructional time due to Hurricane Ida. The survey was shared via email to all JP Schools employees, through JCampus via text message to all JP Schools families, as well as on jpschools.org and the district's official Facebook and Twitter channels. The results of the survey showed:
- 61% of respondents think the revised calendar should keep the same number of holidays in the original calendar
- 49% of respondents think the revised calendar should scale back the number and length of holidays in the original calendar
- 98% of respondents are most interested in protecting winter break
- 62% of respondents are most interested in protecting Thanksgiving break
- 36% of respondents are most interested in protecting Mardi Gras break
- 18% of respondents are most interested in protecting fall break
To this end, we have constructed three calendar options. Each calendar meets the required instructional minutes and adheres to the board’s agreement with the Jefferson Federation of Teachers.
Click on one of the links below to view the calendar options for your school's reopening tier. A list of schools by reopening tier can be viewed on our website.
CALENDAR OPTION BY REOPENING TIER
NOTE: Please remember that no matter which tier a school is assigned, all schools will have the same number of teacher days, student days, and holidays. The differences are the start and end dates, when quarters begin and end, when virtual parent conferences are held, and when report cards are issued.
A summary of the calendars is included below.
- Survey Option A: Keeps all holidays from original 2021-22 calendar | Makes September 24, January 4, and February 18 student report days | Students' last day moves to June 13-24 (depending on tier)
- Survey Option B: Reduces two days each from fall break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, and Mardi Gras break | Reduces three days from spring break | Makes September 24, January 4, and February 18 student report days | Students' last day moves to May 26-June 9 (depending on tier)
- Survey Option C: Eliminates fall break & Memorial Day | Maintains Thanksgiving break and winter break from original 2021-22 calendar | Reduces Mardi Gras break by two days | Reduces spring break by three days | Makes September 24, January 4, and February 18 student report days | Students' last day moves to June 1-16 (depending on tier)
The calendar options were developed within the following constraints:
- The state has not issued an instructional minute waiver
- Students must receive at least 63,720 instructional minutes
- Additional instructional minutes will not be added to current days, at this time
- Each calendar must have the same number of teacher work days
- Each calendar must have the same number of instructional minutes
- Each calendar must have the same holidays
Please review each option carefully and vote for your preference by Friday, September 17 at noon. Please note that this survey window is tighter than what we normally provide for our annual calendar survey. Per policy, the calendar must be board approved. Our goal is to have the calendar adjustments approved at our September 20 board meeting. This gives employees and families more time to plan for adjustments.
Update #13 | September 14: Superintendent's Update: Academic Calendar Timeline
Dear JP Schools Family,
If there’s anything we learned last year, it’s that working together will always see us through challenging times. That same sense of unity and collaboration will allow us to overcome the journey ahead. We’re just two weeks out from Hurricane Ida. Since then, we’ve shown up for our students, families, and one another. We’ve partnered with organizations to provide hot meals and supplies. We’ve reached out to each other to conduct well-being checks, and schools are continuing to reach out to their families to assess their needs. We’ve also launched a Confidential Emotional Support and Resource Line for our employees in order to provide emotional support and recovery resources.
With our 11 tier one schools starting on Monday, we are doing everything we can to ensure we are prepared for a strong return. For more information about our tiered reopening, please see jpschools.org/ida. We’re also working with our three schools in Grand Isle and Lafitte to ensure those students are provided a clear path forward for learning. We’re working on that plan and will share more details soon.
Updated Academic Calendar Timeline
Yesterday, we shared an online survey to gather feedback from all of our stakeholders. It will provide insight into how employees, families, and the community prefer to make up time missed due to Hurricane Ida. Please take time to share your opinion if you have not already. After the survey closes at noon tomorrow, September 15, we will use the data to develop multiple calendar options. An additional survey will be made public later this week asking stakeholders to vote among the available calendar options. Our goal is to present this information to the School Board for consideration at the September 20 meeting, so that they may then vote on the amended calendar.
We are still in the midst of recovery from Hurricane Ida, and hurricane season continues through the end of November. Our team is keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Nicholas. Please monitor the weather and make needed preparations for your home and family.
Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students. Together, I know we can overcome anything.
Dr. James Gray
Update #12 | September 10: Superintendent's Update: School Reopening Timeline
Dear JP Schools Family,
Our main goal has always been to safely reopen schools and as quickly as possible. Public schools are a cornerstone of a strong, well-functioning community. Our schools exist to provide children with the education they deserve to succeed in life and make our world a better place. At a more basic level, schools provide a sense of normalcy and a safe place for children during the day.
Hurricane Ida’s impact on Jefferson Parish varied from community to community and across our 80 campuses. Our three schools in Grand Isle and Lafitte suffered severe damage, 27 of our schools suffered major damage, and damage to our remaining schools was minor. Contractors have assessed each campus, and recovery work is underway. Contractors will release school campuses back to us as those buildings meet safety, environmental, and operational standards. The contractors shared their timeline with us yesterday afternoon, and we used this information to create a tentative reopening plan. Based on when schools will be released to us, the first day for students at tier 1 schools is planned for September 20, tier 2 schools September 24, and tier 3 schools October 1. Please note these timelines are subject to change based on our buildings meeting safety standards.
Timeline for Reopening Schools
Our schools will reopen on a rolling basis based on the tiered release timeline of system contractors. Teachers and school-based staff will return to work two days prior to the first day for students at their school. The timeline for each tier and a list of schools in each tier can be found on our website. We will also continue to update our frequently asked questions.
Grand Isle School, Leo Kerner Elementary, and Fisher Middle-High will not be part of the general reopening tiers due to the significant impact of the storm in Grand Isle and Lafitte. We will directly communicate reopening plans with those employees and families prior to any public announcement.
JP Schools charter schools will also not be a part of the reopening tiers. Those schools will directly communicate individual reopening plans with their employees and families.
All school-based employees report to work on their regular schedule based on their school’s tier. Itinerant employees will hear directly from their supervisor about a report date. If staff members have extenuating circumstances, they should contact their supervisor.
Changes to Academic Calendar
As I mentioned yesterday, our goal is to ensure children receive the benefits of a complete academic year. While our academic calendar had additional instructional minutes built into it, the days we have missed due to Hurricane Ida have exceeded that cushion. The state mandates a minimum number of instructional minutes that school systems are required to meet each year. Any waiver of these minutes would have to be requested by the state and approved by the governor. We will be in touch next week about our academic calendar as we continue to evaluate options to make up the days missed due to Hurricane Ida.
I know you have additional questions. That’s normal and expected considering the current situation. Know that we are working to make the best decisions we can for children, employees, families, and Jefferson Parish as a whole. I will continue to share updates every Tuesday and Thursday and as needed throughout this process. We also created a page on our website with frequently asked questions and will continue to update it as more information is available.
I’m grateful to our employees, families, School Board, Jefferson Parish officials, and community partners for their support as we navigate through this difficult time together. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Even with buildings closed and many of our personal lives turned upside down, we have continued to show up for our children and one another. I know we will keep moving forward together.
Dr. James Gray
Update #11 | September 9: Tiered Reopening Plans, Return to Work, and Calendar
Dear JP Schools Family,
Thank you for your support as we navigate through this difficult time together. Even with buildings closed and many of your personal lives turned upside down, you show up for children, colleagues, and families. You continue to be a cornerstone of this recovery for the entire parish. We have all witnessed public outpourings of love, whether through meal giveaways or donation drives at schools across the system. I know there are also many private moments when we are lifting up one another. It takes a special person to serve in education, and those same traits are what call us to be part of the solution when times are tough.
Condition of Schools
We have completed initial assessments at all of our buildings. Our main goal has always been to reopen schools as quickly as possible. This is why crews at our schools have prioritized internal cleanup and recovery. As the inside of our schools are made suitable for return, crews will begin shifting to cleanup and recovery of the school grounds. When our buildings reopen, they will be safe for students and employees. At this time in our recovery, we are prioritizing safety. Our schools and classrooms may not look the same, but they will be safe for instruction. Please remember that the average age of our buildings is close to 60 years. As with any renovation project, we will likely identify additional work that needs to be completed.
With the initial assessment of our buildings complete, we will release a tentative reopening schedule tomorrow. Our current plan is to reopen schools in multiple tiers. Due to the varying nature of damage at our schools, some buildings will take longer than others to meet safety, environmental, and operational standards. We will share the tentative reopening dates and the schools included in each tier tomorrow. Given the significant damages to their buildings, our three schools in Grand Isle and Lafitte will not be part of the general reopening tiers. We will communicate reopening plans with those employees and families directly and prior to any public announcement.
In order to give school-based employees time in their building prior to welcoming students back, they will return to work two days prior to reopening with students. Anything we announce will be tentative because it relies on our contractor’s timeline for releasing school buildings back to us. The contractors will release buildings to us as our schools meet safety, environmental, and operational standards.
Return to Work
We’ve made it a priority to inform employees and families as soon as possible about returning to school and work. One of the first steps in welcoming children back into our schools is resuming normal support operations at our central office. This morning, we notified 11 and 12 month central office employees that their return to work date at the office is Monday, September 13. Our 11 month school-based plant staff is also returning Monday to focus on debris cleanup and recovery of their school grounds. As we resume normal operations, we will continue to provide appropriate and timely notice to employees and families. It’s also important for employees to check-in regularly with their supervisors to ensure they have the latest work-related information.
Possible Calendar Changes
While we have additional minutes built into our school year, the days we have missed exceed that cushion. The state mandates a minimum number of instructional minutes that school systems are required to meet each year. Any waiver of these minutes would have to be requested by the state and approved by the governor. We are currently evaluating options to make up the days missed due to Hurricane Ida. Our goal is to ensure our children receive the benefits of a complete academic year.
We’re going to work hard and support one another, but we also know this will not be a perfect reopening. Extenuating circumstances could cause plans to change. We are working diligently to ensure a safe reopening of schools as quickly as we can. Consequently, we will meet the needs of our students and community. I know that together, we will move our students forward.
Dr. James Gray
Update #10 | September 7: Condition of Schools, Reopening Schools, and Regular Communication Schedule
Dear JP Schools Family,
I hope you were able to move closer to your hurricane recovery goals over the weekend and find moments of normalcy during this abnormal time.
Earlier today an article was posted that originally included a headline with a possible reopening timeline. As I have shared with you multiple times, my goal is to open schools as quickly as possible. When we do announce a timeline, I will first share that directly with our employees, families, and stakeholders.
Condition of Schools
Roughly half of our 80 campuses have power, and we have identified major damage at 27 schools. Our schools in Grand Isle and Lafitte sustained the most significant damages. As of last week, around 1,000 crew members were deployed to our campuses to evaluate damage and begin clean-up. We are prioritizing cleanup inside of our buildings to ensure schools are ready to be occupied. We will then focus on exterior cleanup. As with any renovation project, we may identify additional work that needs to be completed.
I toured three of our schools with board members and State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley today. During our conversations, we discussed the complex nature of reopening schools. In short, reopening schools depends on more than power being restored. First, our families and employees need time to return and ensure their home is livable. We estimate that the majority of our employees have evacuated and plan to come home when power is restored. Returning home and reopening schools also depends on the continued availability of basic resources and utilities like gas, food, water, and sewage. Additionally, returning to school depends on our buildings being safe and conducive to teaching and learning.
We met today with our insurance adjusters and contractors about the scope of work needed for our schools to reopen. They hope to provide us with a more definitive reopening timeline for each school by the end of this week. After the damage assessments are complete, we will have a clearer picture of when our buildings can safely serve the needs of students and employees.
As we shared last week, all schools and administration buildings are closed until further notice. Updates regarding a reopening timeline will be provided on a weekly basis. We will give ample notice when the decision is made to reopen schools and buildings.
Regular Communication Schedule
I value open communication with our employees, families, and stakeholders. In an effort to create some normalcy around my communication with you, I am adjusting my regular updates to a set schedule. I hope these updates prove to be beneficial during these uncertain times. You should expect updates from me every Tuesday and Thursday. We will publicly share this update for families through the Student Progress Center, our website, mobile app, and social media. We also created a page on our website with frequently asked questions and will continue to update it as additional questions arise. In addition to my regular Tuesday and Thursday updates, we will share information as needed throughout the week.
While I recognize our current circumstances are far from normal, I know we will come together again to meet the needs of our children. Just like our response to the unprecedented challenges of last school year, how we respond to Hurricane Ida will be a marker in education. I’m confident in how this story turns out because I witnessed firsthand what we accomplished last school year. We will meet this unexpected challenge, continue to serve children and families, and live our student-first mindset one day at a time.
It’s important we stay connected. I urge you to continuously check in on your colleagues and families, even if it’s just a quick email or text. It may seem small, but human connection matters and it often comes at just the right time. We need each other. Together is how we write this story.
Dr. James Gray
Update #9 | September 3: JP Schools Remains Closed Until Further Notice Through Week of September 6
Jefferson Parish Schools will not reopen during the week of September 6. All schools and buildings remain closed until further notice. We are currently assessing the impact of Hurricane Ida at each school. Upon reviewing those conditions, a clear path forward for learning will be provided. We will rebuild, recover, and reopen as soon as possible. Stay safe and take care of the loved ones in your life. We will provide additional updates starting early next week.
Update #8 | August 31: Employee Updates on Pay, State of Emergency, Email Access
Dear JP Schools Family,
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and that you are beginning to make progress towards whatever recovery may look like in your personal life. I’m writing with three important updates.
First, I want to clear up any confusion on employee pay while our schools and buildings are closed. All regular salaried and hourly employees will continue to be paid during the closure.
Second, the Jefferson Parish School Board met tonight to declare a state of emergency in our district due to Hurricane Ida. This same action was taken during the start of the pandemic, and it gives us greater flexibility to purchase items that will aid in our recovery from the impacts of the storm. I applaud our Board for their rapid response to support our employees and families immediately following Hurricane Ida. Their leadership has been foundational to the progress we’ve made through a global pandemic, and tonight’s action ensures we will have the resources needed to rebuild, recover, and reopen our schools as soon as possible.
Third, it’s come to our attention today that some JP Schools employees are having issues logging into their JPS Gmail accounts. While we had the internet on the District network after the storm, the internet has been out on our network since earlier today. Because of this, some employees are unable to login to their accounts. One temporary workaround that has worked for some employees experiencing issues logging into their JPS Gmail accounts is to use a private/incognito window to access their email. Please note that the process for establishing that window will vary depending on your device and that this solution may not work for everyone. While there is no timeline for the internet to be restored to our network, Cox Communications has JP Schools as a high priority and we are in constant communication with them to help resolve the situation as quickly as possible. We will communicate with you about this issue as we learn more.
We are in the process of creating a frequently asked questions resource for employees. I’ll share that with you as soon as it is complete, and we will continue to update it as additional questions arise. We are also working with district leaders to check-in on as many employees as possible. We are assessing the safety, needs, and whereabouts of our employees in phases so we can begin to make plans for next steps when the time is right.
Please continue to check your work email for updated employee information. We have also created a web page for Hurricane Ida updates at jpschools.org/Ida. Along with school-related updates, you can find links to local, state, and national hurricane recovery information.
I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and ask that you do the same for my family. The road ahead will be challenging. I know we have the right people in place to complete the journey.
Dr. James Gray
Update #7 | August 30, 2021: Schools & Buildings Closed Until Further Notice
All schools and administration buildings in Jefferson Parish Schools will be closed until further notice as district leaders assess the impact of Hurricane Ida. This is a full closure that will not include remote learning. The District’s intent is to reopen schools as soon as possible. We will also reschedule our regular School Board meeting that was scheduled to take place September 1.
In addition to assessing the status of campuses and facilities, district leaders are also planning to survey the status and well being of students, employees, and families. Jefferson Parish officials requested that citizens who evacuated prior to Hurricane Ida not return until further notice due to power outages, debris, and other hazards. For the latest parish updates, visit JeffParish.net/storm.
“We will continue to remain in constant communications with employees, families and our stakeholders,” said JP Schools Superintendent Dr. James Gray. “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.”
The district will continue to use district email and the Student Progress Center messaging system to communicate the latest information directly to families and employees. For the latest school-related Hurricane Ida updates and information, visit jpschools.org/Ida. You can also follow the district on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Update #6 | August 30, 2021: Special Session Board Meeting
The Jefferson Parish School Board will hold a Special Session meeting Tuesday, August 31 at 6 p.m. The meeting is being held on special 24 hour notice to consider declaring a state of emergency due to Hurricane Ida and granting the Superintendent authority to act on behalf of the board during the Hurricane Ida emergency.
The meeting will be held at the JP Schools Administration Buiding at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey. The agenda can be viewed online.
Update #5 | August 30, 2021: Superintendent's Message
JP Schools Family,
First and foremost, I hope you and your family are safe. As painful as it can be to lose belongings or a home, what matters most is the well being of the people we love. If you need support or resources, Jefferson Parish government has established a hurricane season dashboard at JeffParish.net/storm.
Hurricane Ida was a destructive force that impacted everyone who lives and works in Jefferson Parish. We saw this firsthand today while beginning to assess the damage. Now is the time to focus on the people in our lives and make sure they are okay.
We will remain in communications with employees and families throughout this process. 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.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. We will get through this together.
Dr. James Gray
Update #4 | August 29, 2021: Closures Extended to at least August 31
All schools and administration buildings in Jefferson Parish Schools will be closed through at least Tuesday, August 31 due to Hurricane Ida. This includes cancellation of all school and district activities and events. Both August 30 and 31 are full closures. Remote learning will not take place these days.
“The focus of our employees and parents should be on the safety of their families. Making the call now for Tuesday gives our employees and families one less concern,” said JP Schools Superintendent Dr. James Gray. “Not only will it take time to assess the status of our campuses across the parish following Hurricane Ida, but many of our families and employees have evacuated and will need time to return home and assess the status of their homes.”
We will continue to use district email and the Student Progress Center messaging system to communicate the latest information directly to families and employees. Stay tuned to jpschools.org and our social media for the latest information.