Schools in 13 parishes are closed after Hurricane Laura

Displaced students are expected to transfer to other school systems

Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura
Debris is piled up near Lake Charles City Hall on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Wes Muller/LA Illuminator).

School system in 13 parishes have stopped their school year due to Hurricane Laura, said Cade Brumley, Louisiana schools superintendent, at a Louisiana House education committee meeting Friday.

Calcasieu Parish, for example, have closed their schools until further notice because 97% of their school facilities suffered “substantial damage,” according to their Facebook page. Once power is restored in that parish, its schools will return completely virtual, Brumley said. But severe damage to the parish’s power infrastructure means that could take weeks.

Since the hurricane, thousands have also had to shelter in hotels in Texas or other parts of Louisiana. Over 10,000 alone are in New Orleans, according to an Advocate article.

Some students displaced by the hurricane may transfer to other school systems temporarily, which is pretty standard for families after major natural disasters, but that will vary from parish to parish. The Orleans Parish school system, along with the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, is 100% virtual at the moment, Brumley said, which will make the transition easier. The bigger challenge would be in transferring students into hybrid learning models where classroom space is tighter and requires more safety restrictions.

“Like everything else, educators and principals and superintendents and system leaders across the state have a new set of challenges with accepting displaced students that are above and beyond those they would traditionally face,” Brumley said.

Orleans parish does not yet have an official count for the number of students they expect to transfer to Orleans Parish schools. Families can participate in late enrollment by visiting https://enrollnola.org/late-enrollment/. After completing the form the school system will reach out to them to make a school placement and ensure they are connected to services.

Correction: This article initially said that all schools in 13 parishes affected by Hurricane Laura were closed “indefinitely”. Some schools are closed until further notice, but others already have a reopening date. The article also originally stated that schools in all 13 parishes were return in a virtual format only. Schools in Calcasieu Parish will return virtually. It’s not clear what schools in other parishes will do.