The Office of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Lake Charles is committed to working around the clock to clear the path to re-open schools following the Category 4 hurricane that ravaged the Southwest Louisiana community on August 27.
School leadership has been been diligently assessing Hurricane Laura's damage to school campuses and have begun clean-up work, Kimberlee Gazzolo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said in a statement on September 1. Ongoing efforts involve clearing debris, water damage mitigation, covering damaged roofs and working with our insurance adjusters.
The Office of Catholic Schools has set up temporary offices at Our Lady Immaculate Catholic School in Jennings to assist schools throughout this process. OLI was the only one of six Catholic schools spared damage and opened up Monday, August 31, for face-to-face instruction. The other five Catholic schools will open up on a site-by-site basis, as circumstances dictate.
"Preliminary assessments show varied amounts of damage to sites, ranging from outside fencing, roofing, HVAC damage and internal structural damage," Gazzolo said. "We are hopeful that some of our sites will welcome students as utilities are restored to the area. Other sites may be able to offer a virtual learning platform if necessary."
The Office of Catholic Schools has been reaching out to families, faculty and staff to discuss their circumstances and determine their needs. "We know that many of us are displaced and anxious about the future. Without a doubt, we know that God is with us and we are a people filled with faith and guided by hope," the superintendent said.
Each school principal will continue to reach out to their communities with updates and progress.
"Catholic Schools have always had a strong presence in Southwest Louisiana, and Hurricane Laura, as strong as she might have been, will not change that," Gazzole said. "With the support of Bishop Glen John Provost, the Office of Catholic Schools, our school communities and our extended supporters, I am certain we can clear the path forward to a brighter future."