By TiOnka Writez
COVID-19 is ripping through the country just as Hurricanes Katrina, and Ida have through New Orleans leaving a spirit of despair amongst its residents. COVID-19 is gravely affecting the mental, and emotional state of New Orleanians as it continues to claim lives at an alarming rate. Louisiana’s mental health system has been less then optimal since 2009 during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rule. Jindal’s administration slashed the budget on mental health operations resulting in the closing of multiple mental health facilities, and a decrease in the services and support offered by others. During a chaotic period as such, educational institutions across Louisiana, have agreed to resume in-person learning with limited mental and emotional resources. This speaks volumes to the brokenness of a system citizens depend on.
Superintendent Denies Petition
New Orleans Public Schools, Superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr. denied the petition of parents for continued virtual learning. He ordered students and teachers to resume in-person learning as early as August 2021. The decision to return to in-person learning came in haste. It was partly because of the influx in the number of students referred to summer school for the 2020. Prior to returning to in-person instruction members of the school system should perform wellness checks. There should be an incubation period to allow all individuals the opportunity to adjust to the world around them.
Staff and students are to operate under strict CDC guidelines. Those guidelines are:
- when entering the building you are to wear a mask (covering the nose and mouth),
- social distance at 6ft (preventing group projects, and games),
- wash and sanitize hands often,
- and if you show any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 you must quarantine for at least 10 days
- and are only able to return with proof of a negative test result. School is stressful enough without having to focus on the aforementioned.
The school system should consider adjusting its current curriculum to include courses that teach mental and emotional wellness. Providing students, and teachers alike with the tools and resources required to live as productive citizens. Showing them mechanisms and practices to help rebuild themselves, and their communities. Merely focusing on mathematical equations, and historical stories does not benefit them in the face of a global pandemic. If students need to return to in-person learning, then the school system needs to offer the opportunity to gain advanced life skills.
Life skills such as:
- critical thinking,
- how to maintain temperance in the face of disaster,
- and conflict resolution that does not begin and end with violence. Instilling a spirit of pride, and self-esteem within each student.