For the third time in 18 months, Louisiana public school students are in turmoil, this time due to Hurricane Ida.
About 300,000 students were forced out of their classrooms because of the storm, which accounts for more than 40% of enrollments statewide.
Nearly 105,000 students were still out of school last week, nearly a month after the Category 4 hurricane hit near Port Fourchon.
Educators said the Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson and St. Charles school districts suffered the most damage and in some cases schools are expected to remain closed until the end of October.
After months of classroom turmoil sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, up to 250,000 public school students are now facing new struggles sparked by …
“I have worked for the parish of Lafourche for 40 years and have been through several hurricanes and have never experienced or seen such damage and devastation in our schools and communities,” said Sandy Holloway, Thibodaux educator and President of the State Council for Elementary and Secondary Education.
The storm is just the latest shock to public schools in a state still trying to get off the bottom of national academic achievement lists.
Classrooms abruptly closed in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tumultuous 2020-21 school year was marked by stops and starts, in-person and virtual learning, and a massive drop in key scores from states that measure what students know about math, English, science and social studies.
State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley on Wednesday announced a three-pronged, $ 132 million plan to recover the learning loss highlighted by the …
There was some optimism when classes started in early August.
“We felt like we had a lot of momentum at the start of this year, especially with the excitement of having kids back in class,” said State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley.
But Hurricane Ida transformed 25 parishes into federal disaster zones, with the parishes of lower Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson and Saint-Charles leading the way.
A total of 159 schools were damaged in these four districts alone.
Early indications suggest that Hurricane Ida is not – or at least not yet – causing large numbers of families in the worst affected areas of southeast Loui…
Almost a third of the public schools in the parish of Lafourche – 9 out of 30 – suffered significant damage.
The Lafourche Sud secondary school has lost a large part of its roof.
Golden Meadow Middle School and Larose-Cutoff Middle School also suffered roof damage.
The Bayou Boeuf primary school in Thibodaux took about two feet of water.
“I’m really sick of the word unprecedented because that’s what we faced, one unprecedented event after another,” said Lafourche Parish School District Superintendent Jarod Martin.
Even before the storm, the state’s youngest learners, especially third and fourth graders, posted the biggest drop in standardized tests given in the spring.
The Lafourche district has 14,200 students.
“I am concerned that the youngest children who learn the most basic skills will have gaps in the future,” said Martin.
“The challenge we have is to recognize these gaps and put in place a plan to close those gaps so that we don’t have a generation of children for the next decade suffering from a lack of fundamental understanding of literacy skills. and numeracy, ”he said. .
The district is expected to start returning students to school on Monday, with the last shift scheduled for October 13, but it could be October 20 – eight weeks after the storm started.
Other neighborhoods have similar hours.
Even these gradual reopenings are temporary because they depend on repairs, environmental testing of schools, electrical, telephone and technology tests, adequate personnel and food supplies.
“It’s not as simple as turning the power back on and then having the doors open,” Brumley noted.
Jefferson Parish School District, the state’s largest with nearly 49,000 students, has cut fall vacation, Thanksgiving vacation, winter vacation, and Tuesday vacation by two days each Fat.
Some schools are expected to keep classes until June 9.
Terrebonne Parish School District Superintendent Philip Martin said all 34 schools in his system of about 17,000 students were damaged and four were left without power last week.
“The school system is a reflection of our communities,” said Martin. “When they suffer, we suffer.”
Phillip Martin is Jarod Martin’s father.
All 15 schools in the St. Charles School System were damaged by Hurricane Ida, including crooked roofs and flooding, according to Superintendent Ken Oertling.
School phones were still down last week.
Even tentative return dates will include makeshift arrangements, including students from Destrehan High School being temporarily assigned to Hahnville High School until repairs are made to Destrehan.
Leaders of the St. Charles system and others are considering seeking a state waiver to bypass the mandatory number of school days.
The district has approximately 9,800 students.
In Lower Jefferson Parish, three schools in Lafitte and Grand Isle are closed until further notice, including one that received 42 inches of rain inside.