By Publications Class
While distance learning has had its challenges, Lusher High School Social Studies teacher Ms. Pugh has not been slowed down at all in the guest speakers she has arranged for her senior civics classes as part of their unit on public policy. If anything, the opportunity to speak with high-profile city leaders is even more meaningful in this time of crisis.
“I figure kids may be more engaged, interested, and invested if I can talk about relevant things with people actually working on those issues right now,” Pugh said. “I think that’s true in a regular class, but it’s especially important now!”
Students join in the discussions with city officials via Google Meet, the first of which took place on March 26. Justin Boone, Special Assistant to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, led that press conference for Lusher from the mayor’s press office. Ms. Pugh opened the invitation to her own seniors, as well to other seniors in other social studies classes, and to teachers expressing an interest.
Boone took 45 minutes out of his schedule to answer the questions of Lusher seniors and teachers.
When asked to assess how busy the mayor’s office is right now handling the pandemic, Boone said, “We’re working seven days a week. Every other day we’re in the office, and the other day we work from home. Even though we’re social distancing, they need us to work right now, and we’re going to work right through this.”
“The green sticker here on my shirt is from getting our temperature checked every morning when we enter [City Hall]” Boone explained.
He warned against believing rumors about the virus on social media without verifying their veracity. “If you hear a rumor on social media and you’re not sure whether it’s true,” he said, “I recommend searching maybe three or four other sources about it. Ready.nola.gov is an excellent source.”
Fielding a question about the future of Mardi Gras, which former health director of New Orleans Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., called “a perfect incubator at the perfect time” in a recent New York Times article, Boone said, “I do see an effect this pandemic will have on New Orleans and on life in general. I have a feeling when this is over, what we do to maintain cleanliness will be ramped up.”
“The question right now,” Boone said, “isn’t when we’ll go back to a normal life, but how do we get through this. We’re going to keep working for y’all, and we’re going to get this city through this. That’s a promise.”