The Willow School is in partnership with Tulane University.

  • Home > Highlights > Hurricane Ida Update (9/17/2021)

    Hurricane Ida Update (9/17/2021)

    ***9/22/2021 Update***

    Dear families:

    Great news! The Freret campus has been cleared for staff and students to return to in-person schooling on Monday, Sept. 27. 

    Online schooling will continue through this week.  

    We are thrilled to welcome all students back to school.

    As a reminder, in addition to the Covid testing we offer on campus every Monday for asymptomatic individuals, CORE uses saliva-based PCR tests and is available to test all members of the NOLA-PS community (including parents, teachers and families) and can be used for students currently in quarantine.

    This week, the tests are offered here:

    Thursday: The Living School- 6003 Bullard Ave, Suite 16, @ 1:30-4:30pm

    Friday: Apple Bus Barn – 5641 Morrison Rd, @ 9-1:30 pm

    Habans ES – 3501 Seine St, @ 8:30-3:30 pm

    Testing information is available in the Covid Testing Information document linked in the newsletters sent to all staff and families each Friday.

    Please reach out to individual principals with any questions/concerns: Kendra Henry (Middle School) and Ronda Moore, (High School).


    Kathy Riedlinger


    ***9/17/2021 Update***

    Letter from Coach Landrum concerning our return to athletics after Hurricane Ida.

    Update from Mrs. Riedlinger:

    We have cleaned up our buildings and await the resolution of issues that do not impact use of the buildings, such as plaster repairs and a few leaks. Those repairs will be ongoing while we wait to re-enter the Freret Campus. Environmental testing was done at the Freret Campus on Thursday. We anticipate receiving those test results sometime next week. If all goes as planned, we hope to reopen the Freret Campus to students on Monday, Sept. 27. 

    The Willow campus kitchen/cafeteria is currently out of service due to refrigeration and other issues. Food is being prepared off-site each day, and our staff members have risen to the occasion, helping to feed students each day. We hope this will be resolved sometime next week.

    The HVAC repairs at the Freret Campus are nearly completed, with one or two small areas awaiting parts. We are also waiting on permanent repairs to HVAC hatches damaged on the roof.

    Weekly COVID testing will continue on Mondays. We encourage every student and employee to be tested prior to returning to school, for the safety of us all.

    We wanted to make you aware of the following changes to Lusher’s school calendar for the 2021-22 school year. Each year, we build time into our calendars to account for time lost to emergencies. With the accrued days lost to Hurricane Ida, we have additional time to make up. The state has indicated that there will be no waivers for missed time. Therefore, the following changes are now in place:

    • Sept. 15 – Willow’s (virtual) parent conferences are cancelled. 
    • Sept. 20 – Willow’s Back to School Night for Grades 1-3 will be held.
    • Sept. 21 –  Willow’s Back to School Night for Grades 4-5 will be held.
    • Oct. 6 – Freret’s Records Day is cancelled.  There will be a regular school day.
    • Oct. 7 – 8 –  K-12: Fall Break is cancelled.  There will be regular school days.
    • Oct. 11 – 14 –  Freret’s 1st quarter exams will be held. There will be full days of school during all quarterly and semester exam days.
    • Oct. 15 – K-12: First quarter will end.
    • Oct. 26 – PSAT is given on this day. Grades 6, 7 and 12 will have asynchronous assignments all day. Grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 will test in the morning and have asynchronous assignments in the afternoon.
      Freret report card conferences (virtual), 1:30-3:30pm
    • Nov. 19 – K-12: The staff PD is cancelled; there will be a full day of school that day.
    • Dec. 13 – 16 –  Freret’s 2nd quarter exams will be held. There will be full days of school during all quarterly and semester exam days.
    • Dec. 16 – K-12: Second quarter will end.
    • Feb. 25, March 3 and 4 – K-12: There will be regular days of school. 
    • May 16 – 19 – Freret’s 4th quarter exams will be held. There will be full days of school during all quarterly and semester exam days.

    We recognize that some families and staff may have planned trips for some of those dates. We apologize for the inconvenience and understand that each family/individual will make the decision best for them. 

    Kathy Riedlinger, CEO


    ***9/9/2021 Update***

    Dear Lusher families:

    We learned late yesterday from New Orleans Public Schools that the Freret campus building (grades 6-12), and 21 other schools in the city, will not be ready in time to welcome students and staff back in person next week. As we indicated on Tuesday, our opening timeline would be impacted by building readiness.  Though we are eager to resume in-person instruction, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority, so we must await the completion of environmental mitigation measures and repairs to the Freret campus building following Hurricane Ida. 

    To avoid the loss of additional instructional time, we would like to begin virtual instruction for grades 6-12 on Wednesday, Sept. 15. We ask all Freret campus families to complete this brief survey to assess your circumstances at this time (in terms of internet access, power, etc.). Administrators and teachers will be in touch with you in regard to the virtual school protocol in the coming days. 

    To be clear, Willow campus students (grades K-5) will resume in-person instruction on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

    We will have more information in the next few days as to the timeline for resuming in-person learning at the Freret campus.  We recognize that this is a disappointing development, but as we all know well, the aftermath of a major hurricane requires patience and understanding.  Rest assured, we will return to in-person learning for grades 6-12 as soon as the building is ready.

    As we are updated with more information, we will pass that on to you.

    Kathy Riedlinger, CEO
    Frank Israel, Director of Operations
    Jan Rice, Elementary School Principal
    Kendra Henry, Middle School Principal
    Ronda Moore, Interim High School Principal


    ***9/7/2021 Update***

    Dear families:

    New Orleans Public Schools (NOLA-PS) announced today a reopening window for its schools. The vast majority of schools will begin to welcome students Sept. 15-22, though these dates may be affected by individual school circumstances. 

    At this time, we ask that all Lusher teachers and staff report to their respective campuses on Tuesday, Sept. 14, to prepare to receive students. 

    Students will return to school Wednesday, Sept. 15. We recognize that our Jewish students and staff may not be present on Thursday, Sept. 16, in observance of Yom Kippur.

    Key factors affecting individual school timelines, including ours, are:

    • Building readiness (for Lusher, this includes environmental testing and mitigation, A/C repairs, etc.)
    • Power and wi-fi restoration
    • Food supply and cafeteria staffing
    • Ability for staff to return 

    You will hear back from us later this week, as ongoing assessments are made and power restoration continues. We are hopeful that all issues will be resolved in support of our timeline. We aim to minimize lost instructional minutes. Fall Break, previously scheduled for Oct. 7-8, is cancelled. We will get back to you regarding any additional makeup time. Willow campus progress conferences will be rescheduled. 

    Prior to returning to schools, NOLA-PS urges every student and staff member to get COVID-19 tested in order to keep school buildings safe and prevent quarantines as schools reopen. We hope to reinstate on-site COVID testing for students and staff soon and will let you know when we have more details on that. If you have the opportunity to get COVID-tested before you return on the 14th (staff) or 15th (students), please do so.

    Our primary focus at this time is a safe return to school for all students and staff. We know that this is a stressful time for everyone, and we commit to keeping you apprised of any changes/updates.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or to individual principals with any questions or concerns. Elementary School: Jan Rice; Middle School: Kendra Henry; or High School: Ronda Moore.


    Kathy Riedlinger, CEO


    ***9/4/2021 Update***

    Dear Families,

    The recovery from Hurricane IDA is moving faster than expected. The buildings did fine, and the HVAC systems will be checked when power returns.

    We anticipate opening school the week of September 13th. This will depend on full restoration of power and water, food delivery, building readiness, etc.  Much work has already been done in these areas.

    Please plan to be back in New Orleans next weekend. The message for all is clearly to open as fast as we can and as slowly as we need.

    More info to come from NOLA-PS on Tuesday.


    ***8/31/2021 Update***

    Dear families:

    We hope everyone has either relocated or is staying safely in New Orleans.

    Right now we are getting in touch with all faculty and staff, and in the next day or so, we will survey our families. We will keep you posted as things progress.

    Here’s the latest from NOLA Public Schools:

    NOLA-PS continues to assess the condition of school buildings, checking for any damage and their capacity to reopen once essential services are restored. 

    Our schools and teams have assessed about a third of our buildings today, and we are encouraged to find only minimal damage so far. These efforts will continue until all buildings are assessed. NOLA-PS continues to gather information on the City’s power grid and its impact on our schools. This information will directly inform our response and timeline for reopening to in-person learning.

    As this work continues, schools will remain closed at least until Sept. 7. We will plan to provide a more detailed update on the status of school operations moving forward on Sept. 7, and we will continue to keep our school community and the public updated on our progress. 

    “As we all assess the impacts of the storm, at home and across our city, our goal is to reopen our schools as soon as it is safe to do so,” Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. said. “The situation remains very fluid, and it will take time to develop a practical plan. I understand how challenging this time is for our families, our teachers, and our school leaders. But we will come together, as we always do. We are strong and resilient, and we will get through this, together.” 

    Kathy Riedlinger, CEO

    ***8/30/2021 Update***

    NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) announced its schools and facilities will be closed until further notice as recovery assessments commence regarding Hurricane Ida’s impact.

    With broad power outages, it is unclear at this time when school will resume. The District will begin working with school leaders to assess any damages to buildings and begin to plan for when students can return to class.

    “With the passing of another devastating hurricane, let’s all do what we know how to do best. Let’s rally around each other, embrace one another, and start that journey toward recovery,” said Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “We are strong, and we are resilient. Let’s put our resolve and our compassion to work. The NOLA-PS team and I will be there every step of the way for our school community, and for our beloved City.” 

    NOLA-PS will continue its constant communications with its City partners and its school leaders. We will update our school community and the public to aid recovery efforts. Damage from the storm can create a dangerous environment, so we urge everyone to be cautious now that the storm has passed.

    ***8/29/2021 Update***

    NOLA-PS has announced the extension of school closures through Tuesday, Aug. 31.  Due to wide-spread power outages in our city the majority of schools will likely not have power for a few days.  We also know may of our residents heeded the voluntary evacuation guidance and we want this information shared quickly. 

    We will continue to keep you apprised as information is available.

    Be safe and please stay weather aware!

    ***Original 8/27/2021 Post***
    Dear families:

    NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) announced the closure of schools and its Central Office on Monday, Aug. 30, in advance of Ida. Should you choose to evacuate, please take chromebooks, chromebook chargers, textbooks and any other essential school supplies with you to ensure continued instruction. There will be no virtual instruction Monday.

    Aftercare services at both campuses will end at 5pm today. The SAT testing scheduled to take place tomorrow at Lusher is cancelled. All athletic events, including practice in the gym, are cancelled. Tryouts scheduled for Monday will be rescheduled. The Advocates for Arts-Based Education board meeting is cancelled. 

    Regular weekly letters, updates and newsletters will be suspended today, to allow staff time to focus on storm preparedness.

    Next week’s COVID surveillance testing of asymptomatic staff/students will occur on Wednesday. You only have to sign up once. There will not be a test during the week of Labor Day. See this document for more details.

    The District will continue to monitor Ida and connect with local and state leaders regarding storm recovery needs. On Monday, district officials will assess any recovery needs and communicate plans to reopen schools once assessments have been completed.  

    NOLA-PS reminds everyone to remain vigilant and to monitor the City’s announcements for updates regarding Ida. NOLA-PS will post all storm-related announcements on its social media as well.

    I hope that all middle and high school parents have had a chance to view the excellent Back to School Night presentations that were emailed home last night. Elementary campus back to school nights will be rescheduled. The Willow campus early release date originally set for Wednesday is cancelled this month due to staffing issues.

    The campuses will be closed, at least through Monday. My fondest hope is that all in our family are safe and that we will be able to return to school as soon as possible following the storm. Please opt-in to emergency text messages by texting “YES” to 67587.

    Kathy Riedlinger, CEO