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Jefferson Parish public schools to start a staggered post-Ida restart on Sept. 20 | Education

A handful of Jefferson Parish schools will reopen starting Sept. 20, kicking off students’ staggered return to the classroom after Hurricane Ida inflicted major damage to a third of the district’s 81 campuses, officials announced Friday.

However, most schools won’t be back until next month, according to the plans.

Only 11 schools will reopen at first. They include: Bridgedale Elementary, Estelle Elementary, Harahan Elementary, Harold Keller Elementary, Harry S. Truman School, Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies, Phoebe Hearst Elementary, Ralph J. Bunche Elementary, Ray St. Pierre Academy for Advanced Studies, Washington Elementary and Woodland West Elementary.

Another 20 campuses will open on Sept. 24, and 41 more will welcome students on Oct. 1 (see list below) .

Three campuses will be closed indefinitely: Grand Isle School, Leo Kerner Elementary and Fisher Middle-High School, which are located in particularly hard-hit areas of lower Jefferson. Officials said they are sorting out the logistics to get those students in an instructional setting as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, charter schools will communicate their own plans to employees and families, district officials said.

Zecilly Laurenti, who has five children in Jefferson Parish public schools, said Friday she was relieved to get a timeline for they could return to school. Four attend Chateau Estates Elementary, which reopens on Sept. 24. The fifth will have to wait until Ella Delhonde Elementary reopens on Oct. 1.

Still, she is glad to know when their days will be structured again.

“They want to be in a rhythm,” Laurenti said. “And this was traumatizing for them.” 

School employees will be expected to report to their campuses two days prior to their opening dates, and officials might change the school calendar to make up for classroom time lost to Ida.

Each academic year has additional classroom time built in as a contingency for emergency closures. But, with Ida, the system has already used up its cushion, and any waiver of the required instructional time would need to come from the governor, district officials said. The district stopped short of saying whether officials would consider that as an option.

In an email to the district, system Superintendent James Gray acknowledged the reopening schedule would prompt questions that he might not be able to immediately answer, but he said he would release additional updates each Tuesday and Thursday as long as needed.

“Know that we are working to make the best decisions we can for children, employees, families and Jefferson Parish as a whole,” Gray said. 

The initial reopening plan for Louisiana’s largest public school system came nearly two weeks after Ida barreled onto Louisiana’s coast Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm wielding winds of 150 miles per hour.

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Some schools, such as Kerner and Fisher, were flooded and might end up being razed. The school in Grand Isle was also devastated along with the rest of the barrier island sitting just east of where Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon.

Jefferson Parish schools after Hurricane Ida

Jefferson Parish public schools Superintendent James Gray, second from right, and Louisiana Education Superintendent Cade Brumley, second from left, look at the buckled gymnasium floor at Stella Worley Middle School in Westwego on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, as they evaluate how much work needs to be done before schools can reopen after Hurricane Ida.

Ida caused significant damage to at least another 27 campuses, officials have previously said. The hurricane blew the roofs off some school buildings, allowing rainfall to pour down from the upper floors, meaning campuses further inland were not spared by the potent hurricane.

Even campuses that fared relatively well have hurdles to overcome before welcoming students back. The district’s internet has been down, and officials weren’t immediately sure how many school buses would be available early in the reopening process.

In addition, many of the district’s 6,000 employees evacuated, complicating efforts to get schools open again.

Ida marks at least the second calamity in as many years to close Jefferson’s public schools. The coronavirus pandemic sent students, teachers and other staffers home in March 2020 and delayed the start of the following academic year, with some keeping up with their coursework virtually.

Hurricane Zeta, which blew through the New Orleans area as a lower-end Category 3 storm in October, also caused some district closures.

Schools opening Sept. 24

  • Park Academy for Advanced Studies
  • Alice Birney Elementary
  • Allen Ellender School
  • Bonella A. St. Ville Elementary
  • Clancy-Maggiore Elementary School for the Arts
  • Congetta Trippe Janet Elementary
  • Ella C. Pittman Elementary
  • Ella Dolhonde Elementary
  • Granville T. Woods Elementary
  • Greenlawn Terrace Elementary
  • Isaac G. Joseph Elementary
  • J.C. Ellis Elementary
  • John James Audubon Elementary
  • Joshua Butler Elementary
  • Marie Riviere Elementary
  • Paul J. Solis Elementary
  • Shirley T. Johnson Gretna Park Elementary
  • Strehle Community School
  • T.H. Harris Middle
  • Woodmere Elementary

Schools reopening Oct. 1

  • A.C. Alexander Elementary
  • Alfred Bonnabel Magnet Academy High
  • Bissonet Plaza Elementary
  • Chateau Estates School
  • Cherbonnier-Rillieux Elementary
  • Douglass Community
  • East Jefferson High
  • Emmett Gilbert School of Excellence at Ford
  • George A. Cox Elementary School
  • Geraldine Boudreaux Elementary School
  • Grace King High
  • Green Park Elementary
  • Gretna Middle School
  • Gretna No. 2 Academy for Advanced Studies
  • Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies
  • Hazel Park/Hilda Knoff Elementary
  • Helen Cox High
  • J.D. Meisler Middle
  • Jefferson Elementary
  • Jefferson Virtual High School
  • John Ehret High
  • John Q. Adams Middle
  • Joseph A Cuillier Sr. Career Center
  • L.H. Marrero Middle
  • L.W. Higgins High
  • Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts
  • Lionel Collins Elementary
  • Livaudais Middle School
  • McDonogh No. 26 Elementary
  • Mildred S. Harris Elementary
  • Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy
  • Riverdale High
  • Rudolph Matas Elementary
  • Ruppel Academie Francaise
  • Stella Worley Middle
  • Terrytown Elementary
  • Thomas Jefferson Academy
  • Tom Benson School
  • Walter Schneckenburger Elementary
  • West Jefferson High
  • William Hart Elementary

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