RTA, NORD and libraries outline their Phase 1 reopening plans

New Orleans is embarking on the first week of Phase 1 in reopening the city as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives in the city and more than 2,000 deaths statewide. If you use public transit, the city’s recreational facilities or the public library, here’s what you can expect from those agencies during this initial phase. Regional Transit Authority
Beginning Sunday (May 17), the RTA returned to Saturday service on all bus and streetcar routes. The RTA also will go back to collecting fares as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the city. For more information regarding fares, visit www.RTAforward.org/fares-passes.

Drive-thru preschool graduation gives 4-year-olds their day in the sun

 

The carpool line at the Child Development Program on Claiborne Avenue looked a bit different Saturday (May 16). Children’s heads popped up through sunroofs as teachers greeted the line of cars with cheers, waves, balloons and gift bags. Preschoolers were being treated to a drive-thru graduation. Of the 54 total students, ages 6 weeks through 4 years old, at the Uptown center, seven were graduating 4-year-olds. After being told by several parents that the sudden shelter-in-place orders brought on confusion to many of the children, particularly the older students, CDP staff members determined that they needed to do something to lift the children’s spirits.

Masks, gloves and good will: Volunteering during a pandemic

To the untrained eye, it looks like organized chaos. The lunchroom in Booker T. Washington High School, once filled with students, is now populated with HandsOn New Orleans volunteers in constant motion — packing meals into plastic bags, that are placed into boxes, which when filled are placed into cars to go to low-income housebound seniors and people who have medical disabilities. I became a part of that scene seven weeks ago when I signed up to volunteer with the organization. Like many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, I had time on my hands and knew this would be a productive way to help the community. It also got me out of the house and into a social setting with people.

Audubon begins phased reopening with The Fly and tennis courts

 

From the Audubon Institute

Per state and city public health directives, Audubon has received approval to move forward with reopening its family of parks and museums following a phased approach that strictly limits attendance and programming. Audubon Riverview Park, or The Fly, will reopen on Saturday (May 16) to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Vehicular traffic will not be allowed. Audubon Tennis will reopen Wednesday (May 20) with a limited schedule and appropriate social distancing measures. Audubon Golf Course will remain closed at this time, and more information on plans for its reopening will be announced soon.

Viewpoint: Magazine Street businesses prepare to reopen amid new protocols

Resilient Magazine Street merchants like Juliet Hainkel Holton and Desiree Petitbon are making final preparations for reopening their two shuttered shops on Saturday (May 15). The co-owners of the trendy boutiques Basics Underneath and Basics Swim & Gym, 5513-15 Magazine St., Holton and Petitbon were inspired to tiptoe into retail 21 years ago after a fateful trip to France. They realized a customer base existed Uptown for properly fitted foundation garments that are popular during the Mardi Gras season as well as for weddings and other special events throughout the year. What began as a fun little sideline blossomed into their main job. Through hard work and dedication, the two single moms steadily built a successful business that brought in more than $1 million annually until COVID-19.

New Orleans-based company offers customer logging technology for local businesses

As the City of New Orleans moves into phase one of reopening, customer logging has been a suggested safety precaution, especially for high-traffic locales. IDScan.net, a local developer of identity verification and information gathering technologies, is now offering New Orleans companies a touchless solution for automatically logging customers. “Our solution helps businesses across industries protect their customers and their staff,” said Denis Petrov, CEO of IDScan.net, in a statement. “Our solution, which logs customers and gets them through the door as fast as possible, is particularly useful where there is high traffic.”

IDScan.net’s visitor management platform scans government-issued IDs and instantly pulls the individual’s name, address, and date of birth. It then creates a record for the individual in a database, along with the time and date of the visit.

Class of 2020 Part 2: Colleges postpone commencement ceremonies and turn to virtual recognition

 

With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,”  said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.

Class of 2020, Part 1: High schools turn to virtual resources, social media and creativity to honor graduates

 

The final months and weeks leading up to high school graduation tend to hold anticipated end-of-year senior traditions, celebrations and countdowns, but this semester is different. The class of 2020 won’t be able to celebrate their accomplishments with hugs from faculty and classmates this month; they won’t be able to graduate in a venue surrounded by cheers from family and friends; and they won’t be able to walk proudly across a stage to receive a handshake and a diploma. When Gov. John Bel Edwards announced school closures for the remainder of the semester in mid-March, students were faced with the challenge of adjusting to a new normal of distant learning. Now, with the state-wide stay-at-home order extended through May 15, graduating seniors are confronted with another major unprecedented change: a socially distanced graduation celebration. “Once you start your freshman year of high school, all you can think about is walking across that stage your senior year to make yourself and family proud,” said Rayon Pratt, a graduating senior at Landry-Walker high school.

Viewpoint: Everyone should get tested to speed up New Orleans’ recovery

I want to be a part of the city’s long-term economic recovery. That’s why I got tested for the COVID-19 yesterday at New Hope Baptist Church in Central City. Administered by Ochsner Medical Center, which has the in-house lab capacity to turn around results within 72 hours, the process was quick, easy and painless. I am a firm believer that everyone should get tested. It’s better to know whether you have the virus — or whether you are a carrier with no symptoms. In addition to determining who should be quarantined, test results serve as a useful guide for public health officials and elected leaders to determine where the virus is more prevalent, how it spreads, where to deploy resources and when to relax stay-at-home restrictions.