Hurricane Zeta damaged a fence outside of Bricolage Academy at John McDonogh School. (Marta Jewson/The Lens)

The NOLA Public Schools district has cancelled Monday classes, the third day in a row that the city’s students will miss class due power outages and ongoing internet and phone service interruptions following Hurricane Zeta. Both in-person and virtual school are cancelled.

The hurricane, which was a strong Category 2 at landfall in southeast Louisiana, caused widespread wind damage throughout the region. The storm cut short a planned Wednesday virtual school day and closed schools entirely on Thursday and Friday. With near 100-mile-per hour winds, the storm initially left close to 80 percent of the city without power. 

As of late Sunday afternoon, about 20,000 homes and businesses in New Orleans were still without power, down from about 178,000 in the immediate aftermath of the storm. 

“Due to ongoing power outages across New Orleans, loss of food due to lack of refrigeration, as well as unstable internet and phone service. This decision includes the cancellation of food services for families on Monday as well,” district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in a Sunday afternoon press release. 

The district will continue to assess buildings and internet and phone service on Monday. Minor storm damage could be seen at a few Mid-City schools, including downed fences and what appeared to be blown-out windows. A key intersection near Bricolage Academy — Esplanade Avenue at Broad Street — remained without power Sunday evening. 

Many district schools also serve as polling locations. Ahead of Election Day, polling locations have been prioritized for power restoration, Gov. John Bel Edwards said last week. However, internet outages are an ongoing concern for educators as the school year continues in a limbo of virtual and in-person classes due to the pandemic. 

On Friday, city officials said as many as 75 percent of city schools did not have power and several had sustained minor damage, such as broken windows. 

“The NOLA-PS team will consider the progress of Entergy and Cox to restore power and the needs of our school community to guide the appropriate timeline for a concerted return to in-person and distance learning for students at all grade levels,” Alfonzo wrote. 

The district will update families Monday on the plans for the rest of the week. 

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...