We all remember the first day of school, but this year is clearly different than any other we’ve experienced. While some students will carry a mask and hand sanitizer along with their other usual classroom materials, many are not even getting the option of returning to the classroom. Desks and textbooks are being replaced by dining room tables and laptops, at least for those students who have access to internet connections.

But while things may be different for a while, we must not forget this critical fact – returning all Louisiana students to school, in one way or another, is of the utmost importance. To accomplish this, we need to think boldly and directly address the tremendous challenges we currently face. That’s why, starting today, the Pelican Institute is hosting its own “Back to School Week”

Over the course of the week, we are diving deep into Louisiana’s current education landscape, hosting conversations with leaders across the state, and releasing policy solutions to help students and parents overcome current difficulties. We’re hosting in-depth PeliCasts on our Facebook page, where we will discuss the future of Louisiana schools and new opportunities for transformational reform. The PeliCasts will feature engaging discussions with members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well as other education policy makers and reform experts.

The week will culminate with a special live discussion with our new State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. All of these PeliCast episodes will focus on a specific goal – working to ensure every Louisiana child has an opportunity to attend a school that best fits his or her unique needs. In addition to the solutions focused PeliCast discussions, the Pelican Institute is also releasing comprehensive policy recommendations to expand educational options and school choice in Louisiana.

You won’t want to miss any of these excellent Back to School Week activities! COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for our state and nation. We learned that the way we delivered education was neither prepared nor agile enough to respond quickly to a major disruption, and now, Louisiana’s children are paying for it.

If we want to spare our children this harm in the future, we must envision a better education system replete with options for all students, regardless of their location or socioeconomic background. As we did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we can overcome and find better ways to serve the students of Louisiana. Now is the time to truly examine the options we have at our disposal and find better, more innovative ways to deliver education.

We encourage you and everyone you know to take part in this very unique, and much needed, “Back to School Week.” Let’s get our students back on track and transform Louisiana’s education system for the better, so we can be prepared when the next crisis hits.