Jefferson Parish Schools to Delay Start of School Year Until Aug. 26
METAIRIE – Jefferson Parish Schools announced it will delay the start of the school year until Aug. 26 to coincide with the availability of “rapid response” COVID-19 tests from Ochsner Hospital for Children.
Dr. James Gray, the system’s new superintendent, posted the news online.
“Jefferson Parish Schools is dedicated to providing the education our students deserve to succeed in life and make our world a better place,” he wrote. “While student learning is our top priority, our top responsibility is making school a safe environment for our students and employees. … Today, we are excited to announce that Ochsner will make rapid 15 minute testing available for symptomatic Jefferson Parish teachers and employees … [but since the] rapid testing will not be available until August 26, we have decided to delay the opening of school until August 26.”
There has been much debate about how to safely reopen schools during the pandemic. Parents are balancing concerns about safety with their need to have their kids in school so they can go to work. Some teachers are concerned about potential health risks associated with classroom learning. While New Orleans Pubic Schools are started with remote learning until at least Labor Day, Jefferson Parish and several neighboring parishes made the decision to resume on-site education.
Today’s announcement is the most visible complication so far in the Jefferson Parish system’s plan.
“Since we set out to reopen schools, safety has been our top responsibility,” wrote Gray. “We’ve said many times that the situation is fluid and we would need to be flexible and make adjustments as we received new information and guidance. We understand that this will cause some disruptions to families who were ready to send their children back to school in-person this Wednesday. The decision was not made lightly, and, ultimately, we felt this delay was the best way to ensure a safe and successful return to school.”