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Superintendent's Weekly Message: January 8, 2021

JP Schools Family,

I hope everyone had a restful winter break. Thank you for your support and commitment to creating the best outcomes for our students. We are almost halfway through the academic year, and our schools are busy with LEAP 2025 and final grades for the second quarter. We appreciate everyone’s commitment to our common goal of educating students and prioritizing student learning during what continues to be a challenging time.

I want to share a recent video from Dr. William Lennarz, systems pediatric chair for Ochsner Health. Out of the 180 schools monitored through the Ochsner Safe Return to Schools program, which includes JP Schools, they have seen very little transmission within the school setting and that children are more protected from COVID-19 in school than in the community. This was further supported by a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and updated guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I share this today because I found these reports reassuring and a testament to the effectiveness of the health and safety protocols our students and employees diligently follow. 

We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 across the district and analyze school level data daily, including positivity and quarantine numbers, alongside our state and local healthcare officials. Educating our students in a healthy and safe learning environment remains our top priority and responsibility.

I also want to follow-up on an announcement made to our employees earlier this week. We are excited to report that JPS employees will be given priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the LDH’s phased vaccination rollout. Some employees who are eligible under 1B Tier 1 will be receiving a questionnaire today to begin registering for the vaccine as early as next week. Although the vaccination is optional, we strongly recommend all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a major milestone to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and it is an added layer of safety for our schools and community. 

We are excited to launch Jefferson Parish Schools Journal, our monthly e-newsletter, on Monday. This newsletter will provide a rich format to share stories about our students, teachers and school employees while engaging all of our stakeholders. If you have not done so, please sign up here to receive our emails. In addition to the monthly e-newsletter, I will continue to send my weekly messages twice a month instead of every week This new format continues to allow us to stay connected with our families and employees.

Thank you for your continued trust and support. We look forward to making 2021 another successful year for the students of Jefferson Parish Schools. 

Dr. James Gray