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COVID positivity rate drops to less than 1% in New Orleans Public Schools; see data

Students wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School on Jan. 27, 2022.
Aubri Juhasz
Students wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School on Jan. 27, 2022.

New Orleans’ public schools reported fewer cases and quarantines last week than at any point so far this year, according to data released Monday.

The omicron variant hit the city hard in early January, resulting in record-high cases among school children. Now, the surge appears to have mostly petered out just in time for Mardi Gras.

“As we head into the Mardi Gras break, we remind our families vaccines remain the best way to protect our children from the virus,” district superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said in a statement.

The district’s vaccine mandate has been in effect since Feb. 1, though officials said last week they still don’t know how many children are vaccinated.

The district was tracking 155 active COVID cases, among 13 staff and 142 students, and 424 quarantines as of last Friday, down from 268 active cases and 525 quarantines the week before.

Omicron cases peaked in early January, when more than 2,200 students and staff tested positive for the virus.

Nearly 19,500 tests were completed last week as part of the district’s surveillance testing program with a positivity rate of less than 1%. The week before, more than 19,400 tests were completed with a positivity rate of 1.5%.

The district is urging all students and staff to get tested before returning to school after the Mardi Gras break, and officials said they have made additional testing resources available to schools.

More than three quarters of schools had already scheduled return testing for students and staff as of last week, the district’s chief operations officer Tiffany Delcour said.

Last week’s cases were spread across 39 of the district’s 76 schools. The highest number of cases were reported at Bricolage Academy and Lusher Middle and High School: Freret Campus with 16 cases each. Bricolage also reported the highest number of quarantines at 122.

The district’s next COVID update is scheduled for March 7 after the Mardi Gras break, and could also include information on the district’s student vaccination rate.

Aubri Juhasz covers K-12 education, focusing on charter schools, education funding, and other statewide issues. She also helps edit the station’s audio stories.

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