Students at 42 Charter School arrive on the first day of in-person classes since COVID-19 shuttered schools in March of 2020. (Michael Isaac Stein/The Lens)

The NOLA Public Schools district is reporting 13 total active cases of COVID-19 — 11 of which are new — across 10 schools, while people in quarantine dropped from 146 to 121.

“Of the 13 cases, 11 were newly confirmed within the past seven days,” district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in a weekly press release.

In both of the last two weeks, the district reported 12 “active” cases. The district’s dashboard only shows active cases. Once a case is old enough to no longer be considered “active” — as determined by the Louisiana Department of Health — it is no longer listed.

This is the third week that the district has reported cases on its website. The district does not release a cumulative count, but based on what the district has released, the cumulative count over that time appears to be 27 cases: 12 cases in week one, four new cases in week two, and 11 new cases in week three. 

Over the summer, when school buildings were closed to students but open to employees, schools reported 27 cases

Of the 13 current cases, seven are students and six are staff members. The schools identified this week include: Arise Academy, Arthur Ashe Charter School, Delores T. Aaron Charter School, Dwight Eisenhower School, Lusher Charter School (both Willow and Freret campus), McDonogh 42, Paul Habans Charter School, Rooted School, Pierre Capdau Elementary and New Orleans Accelerated High School. 

Two student cases at Lusher’s Freret St. campus have caused 38 people to quarantine. Lusher’s older students attend the Freret St. campus while younger students attend the Willow St. campus. One student case at the Willow St. campus has forced 15 people to quarantine.

Students fifth grade and older were allowed to return to district schools beginning last week. Younger students returned in mid-September.

The district’s update came one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for who should be considered a “close contact,” the term it uses to classify people who may be at elevated risk for contracting the disease and to whom it recommends quarantining. 

Previously, the agency had advised anyone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of a person who had a confirmed case should quarantine. Now, the agency has clarified that that includes 15 minutes total over 24-hours.

Asked whether the district was updating its guidelines to match the CDC or if the new guidance had led to additional people quarantining, the district provided the following response:

“The District encourages schools to consult with medical experts at the Louisiana Department of Health regarding quarantine guidelines and other COVID-19-related matters.”

The Louisiana Department of Health has reported 56 cumulative cases in Orleans Parish staff and students since it started collecting information on Sept. 3. The state’s count includes schools in addition to the public district schools.

Update: This story has been updated to include NOLA Public Schools’ response to a request for comment which was provided after publication.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...