Hurricane Zeta's predicted track as of 10 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28. (National Hurricane Center)

As Hurricane Zeta strengthens and closes in on southeast Louisiana, the NOLA Public Schools district ordered all schools to end virtual learning by noon Wednesday. 

“With Hurricane Zeta moving inland earlier in the day than expected, New Orleans Public Schools are instructed to end distance learning by noon today to allow our school community to prepare for storm impacts,” district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in a release. “The safety of our students, their families, teachers, and staff is our top priority.”

The last minute switch is just the latest in a year packed with pandemic related school closures, the launch of citywide virtual learning and recent shift back to partial in-person learning. All the while, seven tropical storm systems have been forecast to hit southeast Louisiana at one point or another. 

Hurricane Zeta was expected to hit as a category 1 hurricane but strengthened overnight and forecasters now predict it will be a category 2, packing winds as high as 100 miles per hour, at landfall along the Louisiana coast on Wednesday afternoon.. 

Officials are advising citizens to evacuate low-lying areas and advising New Orleans residents to shelter in place. While the rain forecast remains relatively low, high speed winds are expected and could cause power outages in the city. 

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...