Students from hardest-hit communities hope to return to school next week
Galliano, LA – According to the Louisiana Department of Education, more than 70,000 students are out of school because of Hurricane Ida a month ago.
While many school districts, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, were able to reopen several weeks ago, it is going to take longer to address the damage in coastal communities. Many people in these rural towns got electricity back a few days back and families are trying to get back on their feet by losing everything.
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“We are still living in a camper,” said Russell Plaisance, a South Lafourche Parish resident and father of three. “I’m trying to get the house to have a roof and be able to live by the day they start school. That’s my goal.”
This is the reality for many parents in southern Louisiana. They are concerned about the basic needs of their children, such as food and shelter. School and homework have to take a back seat.
“It’s been rough, but I’m hanging there for them,” Pleasance said. “A lot of parents are moving to different states. We decided we’re not going to do that. We’re going to put it out there.”
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Lafourche Parish Superintendent Jarrod Martin says the district is returning to school in phases. Those schools near the coast, where the damage is heavy, will be the last to return.
“In the days after the storm, we told everyone, now is not the time to worry about school,” Martin said. “They need to worry about their homes, their families, and their loved ones.”
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South LaFourche High School suffered extensive damage from Ida. Contractors are working 24/7 to get the building up and running.
“Since the storm, the students haven’t done any work,” said principal Gay Cherami. “We haven’t required them to do anything. We’ve only asked them to do one thing, earn hours of service, help their family, help their community.”
The goal is for students to return on October 13th. To make up for lost class time, school leaders say a few days will be taken from the holiday break and the school year will run an additional two weeks over the summer.
“We need some normalcy,” Cherami said. “We want our kids back.”