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NOLA-PS Cancels In-Person And Virtual Classes Ahead Of Hurricane Zeta

Aubri Juhasz
A virtual only classroom at KIPP Central City Primary. All public schools have cancelled both virtual and in-person instruction ahead of Hurricane Zeta.

As Hurricane Zeta approaches New Orleans, classes have been canceled for all public school students, the district announced Wednesday.

Plans to suspend in-person instruction, announced Tuesday, originally gave schools the option to continue learning online. By Wednesday morning, the district had amended its guidance.

“With Hurricane Zeta moving inland earlier in the day than expected, New Orleans Public Schools are instructed to end distance learning by noon today to allow our school community to prepare for storm impacts. The safety of our students, their families, teachers, and staff is our top priority,” district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in a release.

Zeta, which is currently a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to hit New Orleans Wednesday afternoon.

The district’s central office will not be staffed after noon today and meal pick-up for families has also been suspended.

At Edna Karr High School in Algiers, news of canceled classes was met with whoops and applause by students who stayed late Tuesday for band practice.

Edna Karr, an InspireNOLA charter school, made the decision to cancel all classes, in-person and virtual, even before the district amended its guidance.

Students have already missed several days of instruction this school year due to hurricane warnings. Tropical Storm Marco closed school buildings and canceled classes for two days in August. Students lost another day in September due to Hurricane Sally, which ultimately sidestepped the city.

“NOLA-PS will continue to monitor the storm and will reassess needs for extended closures, distance learning, or announce a return to in-person classes as we continue to learn more on the potential impacts to our area throughout the evening and tomorrow,” Alfonzo wrote in Wednesday’s release.

The city’s private schools have either canceled classes altogether or moved to online instruction. Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Dr. RaeNell Houston recommended Tuesday that all Catholic schools conduct remote or virtual learning Wednesday, with “the hopes of returning to school on Thursday.”

Some of the city’s colleges and universities have also made the decision to cancel in-person classes. Tulane University has moved operations online and closed its campus to all but essential personnel. The University of New Orleans and Xavier University are among several other institutions taking the same approach.

Update: Public schools will remain closed through at least Thursday, the district announced Wednesday afternoon. Classes are cancelled for all virtual and in-person students.

“The return to distance learning and in-person learning will be determined once the District can assess the aftermath of the storm,” district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in a release.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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