Superintendent's Update: September 7
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