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Thousands of students and staff quarantined due to COVID-19 in Greater New Orleans area schools

“There was such a large amount of kids that have to quarantine, it didn’t make sense to have...
“There was such a large amount of kids that have to quarantine, it didn’t make sense to have the majority of the school quarantine,” Superintendent of Terrebonne Parish Schools Phillip Martin said.(Kaitlin Rust)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 9:18 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Now that schools are back in session, thousands of students and staff across the area have been quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure.

“There was such a large amount of kids that have to quarantine, it didn’t make sense to have the majority of the school quarantine,” Superintendent of Terrebonne Parish Schools Phillip Martin said.

Through contact tracing, officials determined it was back to virtual for Coteau Bayou Blue Elementary through the end of the month after 11 students tested positive.

“We don’t have a covid outbreak and we don’t want one,” Martin said.

Even with community spread at an all-time high, many Louisiana public school districts have removed their remote learning options for most students, expressing determination to keep kids in class because across the state recent testing scores took a big hit.

“I think the approach should be to make in-person education a priority with lots of layered mitigation measures in place and those consists of masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as well as a complement of ancillary testing programs,” Dr. Leron Finger with Children’s Hospital New Orleans said.

Finger stresses masking is the key from K through 12.

Right now, in Jefferson Parish Schools, there are 345 positive cases (295 students & 50 employees) and 1,267 quarantined (1,187 students & 80 employees).

In Orleans Parish, there are currently 299 active cases, which make up .59-percent of the total students and staff.

3,004 have been quarantined, which is 5.89-percent.

“The system is working,” Finger said. “So, we have identified cases preemptively and if you look at the denominator, that’s a small percentage of the students and team members.”

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Jefferson Parish Schools said last year there tended to be a higher number of positive students and staff following longer breaks, but the numbers would drop as they spent more time in the buildings with all the mitigation efforts in place.

“We did not see across the entire state of Louisiana much spread of disease, actually, on the school campuses during the daytime, but when there was spread of disease among students, it usually happened after hours,” Finger said.

Finger says the positivity rate Children’s Hospital sees is still around 15 to 22 percent in kids.

There are currently 12 children hospitalized there with around a third to a half in the ICU.

“Certainly lower than our peak from several weeks ago but we still have a moderate number of children in the hospital with COVID-19 related illness, so we certainly haven’t seen the tail end of this yet.

On top of a weekly free LDH testing program on 80 school campuses, NOLA Public Schools is also adding more free walk-up testing for students, staff, and family from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Central Office in Algiers and Friday at the Living School in New Orleans East.

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