NOLA Resources & Updates – March 25

March 25, 2020

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To our community:

Amidst this crisis, we want to take a moment to express our immense gratitude to all of you. Some of you are educators yourselves, doing the hard work of teaching your students from afar. Some of you are on the front lines of the crisis as healthcare workers. Many of you are spreading the word about where your neighbors can find support, and donating time and money to those who need it most. Thank you for stepping up.

We will keep providing updates like this, at least once a week, as we have heard from you that the resources we share have been useful. Families across New Orleans continue to need support. Some parents have lost their jobs, and others are working under increasingly stressful conditions; all of this affects our students. Working for our children means working for families, too.

NSNO has been grateful for the chance to support our schools and their efforts. In concert with NOLA-PS, we are working to secure grant funding to help buy the technology our students need for remote learning. We are proud to be a part of the broader efforts within our community, some of which we highlight below.


Bright Spots

We continue to find great hope and encouragement from the actions of our school communities.


Resources

Support for school leaders and teachers

LAPCS Resource Hub – The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools is maintaining an expansive resource page with guidance and materials on many topics, from COVID-related employment law updates to translation needs to remote learning.

NAPCS guidance – The National Association for Public Charter Schools has launched a coronavirus resources page on their website with a wide variety of information for charters.

CMO resource-sharing – Charter networks across the country have shared their materials so that other networks can use them as well. Both Success Academy and Achievement First have shared their remote learning student assignments, and Success has also shared their remote learning framework.

Free online tutoring for students – HomeworkLouisiana, a service of the State Library of Louisiana, has extended its free online tutoring hours to support students during remote learning.

In addition, our March 19th newsletter to New Orleans school and network leaders provided a selection of some of the best resources for distance learning as well as Tier 1 curriculum offerings.

Supporting students’ and residents’ needs

The nonprofit Stand For Children Louisiana has released an important survey for families to better understand the resources they need during the pandemic. Please share it broadly. 

Food assistance for students – NOLA Public Schools has announced that beginning March 26, the 45 community feeding sites across the city will provide families with multiple days’ worth of “grab and go” breakfast and lunch meals for students at one time. This will allow sites to operate on certain days of the week only, instead of every day, so that students, families, and site staff can stay at home as much as possible. Sites will provide meals for March 26-27 on March 26, for March 30-31 on March 30, and for April 1-3 on April 1.

Food assistance for residents and other basic needs – In addition to the food resources being provided by Second Harvest Food Bank and the NOLA Tree ProjectTotal Community Action’s Food Pantry is available to all families this week (March 23-28) between 8am – 5pm at 4518 Thalia Street. Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, in partnership with Second Harvest, is providing a free drive-up food pantry on March 26-27 between 9am – 12pm at 3500 St. Claude Avenue. The City of New Orleans has shared a list of sites where people who are homeless can get meals during this time as well. In addition to providing food, Second Harvest has partnered with the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) to expand access to JLNO’s Diaper Bank for families in need.

Internet access – In addition to Cox Communications’ free 60-day internet service offer for K-12 families and their opening up of Wi-Fi hotspots, AT&T is now also offering two months of free internet services to families who sign up for their Access From AT&T program, which provides lower-cost internet for families that make a limited income.

Child care assistance – Parents and caregivers who provide “essential services” during this time, such as those in healthcare or public works, can now receive subsidized child care by filling out the CCAP Pandemic Protective Services Crisis Application.

Unemployment assistance funds and benefits enrollment – Both the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) have launched funds for the support of those working in the hospitality, tourism, and service industries. The Arts Council New Orleans and the Preservation Hall Foundation have compiled lists of resources, including funds, specifically for artists and musicians affected by the pandemic. Catholic Charities is offering help with applying for SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, and unemployment benefits, and the City of New Orleans is offering help with applying for unemployment benefits. Additional resources are listed in our 3/17 newsletter.

Resources concerning housing security, utility services, and mental health support can be found in our 3/17 and 3/20 newsletters.


How You Can Help

Donate to hospitality and tourism workers in need – The United Way of Southeast Louisiana is seeking donations for its Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund, which provides small grants to those in the hospitality and tourism industry who are in a financial emergency due to COVID-19.

Support front-line workers and local restaurants simultaneously – Several initiatives have been created in New Orleans to organize restaurants to cook meals for healthcare workers and first responders. Using donated funds, restaurants are able to continue paying their employees to prepare the food, while front-line workers receive free meals delivered to their work sites during their long, grueling shifts. Financial donations can be made to Chef’s Brigade and the Krewe of Red Beans.

Provide diapers to families in need – The Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) is seeking support for their Diaper Bank through physical donations of diapers as well as monetary donations, either directly to JLNO or by purchasing diapers through their Amazon Wish List.

Donate urgently needed blood – The CDC announced that blood donations are needed urgently nationwide and has provided blood banks with guidance on how to continue their work safely during this time. The Blood Center encourages healthy individuals to schedule a donation appointment.

Donate PPE to local healthcare workers – Supplies for Saints is calling for dental offices, veterinary clinics, plastic surgery centers, and other healthcare-related sites that are closed or have reduced operations to donate their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They are able to connect donors with local hospitals in need of PPE in order to coordinate drop-offs.

Assist with local PPE rapid manufacturing – Scale Workspace is a New Orleans hub for design services, product development, and rapid manufacturing. In collaboration with Ochsner Health System leaders, they have prototyped, iterated on, and begun producing face shields and masks in just one week in anticipation of local PPE shortages. If you have skills or resources that could contribute to these efforts, email contact@scaleworkspace.com.

The following organizations and initiatives mentioned in our 3/17 newsletter continue to seek donations and/or volunteers: Second Harvest Food BankGreater New Orleans Foundation Disaster Response and Restoration FundNew Orleans Council on AgingHandsOn New Orleans, and the New Orleans Health Department.


Policy & Accountability Updates

2019-20 state testing not required – The U.S. Department of Education has approved the request of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to waive the assessment, accountability, and reporting requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the 2019-20 school year. LDOE stated that they are working to offer optional state assessments, as desired by schools and parents.

Remote OPSB Board meeting – The Orleans Parish School Board held its monthly Board Business meeting remotely on March 24. The meeting was accessible to the public via teleconference and a Zoom live stream.

USDOE responds to distance learning equity concerns – The U.S. Department of Education issued a Fact Sheet to clarify previous distance learning guidance, in response to nationwide reports that some school districts were not pursuing distance learning because of challenges in equitably serving students, particularly students with disabilities. USDOE stated that “ensuring compliance with [federal special education law] should not prevent any school from offering…distance instruction.”

Additional policy and accountability information related to the pandemic can be found in our 3/20 newsletter.


If you have any resources to share, questions, or further thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at patrick@nsno.org. I always want to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Patrick Dobard
CEO
New Schools for New Orleans

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