The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a dramatic shift in public education that could finally force New Orleans leaders to address the myriad inequities that have robbed our most vulnerable children of reaching their full potential. It will take outside-the-box forward thinkers to build a post-COVID educational system that focuses on what will become the new normal — personalized learning beyond the traditional school classroom. Our elected and charter officials as well as parents and civic and business leaders must come together with a clear vision to meet these expanded education goals. School systems without fund reserves could be armed with fewer financial resources as budgets take a hit from projected virus-related reductions in sales and ad valorem taxes, which currently make up a large portion of education funding. During this pandemic one group of New Orleans learners have faced the greatest challenges — the 35,000-plus students from disadvantaged households who make up 83% of charter school students in Orleans Parish.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has awarded the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, or REACH, at Tulane University a $100,000 contract to collect data from approximately 150,000 school websites across the country to see how the nation’s education system is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The project, which will track traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools, aims to quickly answer questions that are critical for understanding how students are learning when school buildings are closed. Key questions include: how many schools are providing any kind of instructional support; which are delivering online instruction; what resources are they offering to students and how do students stay in contact with teachers? “This data will also help answer important questions about equity in the school system, showing how responses differ according to characteristics like spending levels, student demographics, internet access, and if there are differences based on whether it is a private, charter or traditional public school,” said REACH National Director Douglas N. Harris, Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education and chair of economics at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts. REACH will work in cooperation with Nicholas Mattei, assistant professor of computer science at Tulane University School of Science and Engineering, to create a computer program that will collect data from every school and district website in the country.
Krewe of Red Beans, Rouses Markets, the Preservation Hall Foundation, Market Umbrella and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic & Assistance Foundation are partnering for a new effort to ease the pain of the pandemic, the Feed the Second Line program
On March 17, the Krewe of Red Beans, a group that holds a Lundi Gras walking parade, began raising money to buy food from locally owned New Orleans restaurants. Quickly, the effort grew. A month later, the Krewe of Red Beans was operating the largest such effort in the United States. As of April 19, the Feed the Front Line NOLA had sent over 60,000 meals to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers engaged directly with COVID-19 patients, spending $566,000 in the local economy so far. 49 restaurants and coffee shops are being supported by the initiative.
For Part 2 of this two-part series on Magazine Street, Uptown Messenger takes a snapshot of restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Part 1 focused on local shops and galleries.)
Along Magazine Street, a gastronome can sample French, Indian, Vietnamese, Cajun, Creole, Chinese and homegrown flavors in myriad restaurants that dot the six-mile stretch. Bars, an important part of New Orleans social life and culture, can be temples of cocktail culture or beloved neighborhood hangouts. Coffee shops offer places to relax, visit, study or work and have their own individual vibes. Along with the mix of retail stores, these businesses have made Magazine Street a popular destination for tourists and locals.
Who among us wouldn’t want to be eating with friends at a neighborhood restaurant, shopping at a favorite boutique or getting ready for Jazz Fest? Unfortunately we can only dream about those luxuries right now. Ms. Corona is holding us back as a region, a nation and globally. She won’t be letting go until we have a vaccine. As the owner of several small businesses, I want to open up New Orleans just as much as anyone. I need customers.
For Part 1 of this two-part series on Magazine Street, Uptown Messenger is focusing on retail businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Part 2 will focus on restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The following is a snapshot of local shops and galleries. The six-mile Uptown stretch of Magazine Street is home to approximately 300 businesses, creating a hub for tourists and locals to enjoy shopping, dining and cocktails. Five weeks ago, when Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued the stay-at-home order, followed by Gov. John Bel Edwards three days later, these small businesses had to shutter their storefront operations.
Xavier University is the first site in a campaign bring COVID-19 testing to medically vulnerable communities. Walk-up testing will be available at Xavier from Tuesday (April 21) through Friday of this week. LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will be conducting a mobile testing campaign for COVID-19 across the metro area over the coming weeks. At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department, urged residents of the Xavier neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Hollygrove and Dixon to take advantage of the testing this week. To be eligible for testing, you must be 18 years of age or older and either recently exposed to COVID-19 or recently showing symptoms of the virus.
The 10th annual Champagne Stroll on Magazine Street is still on for May 2. It’s just not on the street, it’s online, the Magazine Street Merchants Association has announced. Magazine Street (@MagazineStreet) will host an interactive Instagram live video feed, the “Virtually Champagne Stroll,” on Saturday, May 2. Merchants will offer special deals and followers can chime in with their messages supporting Magazine Street and photos of themselves drinking champagne and shopping online. This night has been one of the flagship events of the Magazine Street Merchants Association, providing heavy traffic and much needed sales to many businesses on Magazine Street, giving them a boost before the traditional summer slump sets in.
At 7 p.m. every night, a racket breaks out on quiet stretch of Laurel Street in the West Riverside area. It’s neighbors sending a thank-you note to the doctors and nurses, RTA workers, ambulance drivers, firefighters and everyone else who is working to help New Orleanians through the coronavirus pandemic, reports Doug MacCash on NOLA.com. The ritual, modeled on similar demonstrations of unity in New York and around the globe, was initiated by 72-year-old Uptown resident Natesh “Mo” Mohan to show respect and gratitude for everyone on the front-lines.
District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso and District B Councilman Jay Banks are holding weekly food distribution events for those who find themselves in financial straits because of the pandemic. Giarrusso is teaming up with state Rep. Mandie Landry, District 91, and Second Harvest Food Bank to give out food on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon in front of the Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School at 2901 S. Carrollton Ave. To sign up to volunteer or to get more information, contact Claire.Byun@nola.gov.
The District B food giveaway is hosted by Banks with assistance from Goodwill Industries, Second Harvest Food Bank, Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership Development) and Culture Aid NOLA. It’s held at the Goodwill store at Tulane Avenue and Jefferson Davis Parkway on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until supplies run out. For more information or to volunteer, call 504-658-1020.