Students at 42 Charter School have their temperatures checked on the first day of in-person classes since COVID-19 shuttered schools in March of 2020.

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 30 “active” COVID-19 cases among students and school staff. Additionally, 221 people are quarantining, according to a district spokesman. While the case numbers dipped slightly, with 35 active cases reported last week, quarantines more than doubled from last week’s 94 people in quarantine. 

District officials did not announce how many of the 30 “active” cases were newly diagnosed in the last week, a distinction they’ve made in all previous updates. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for an answer on that.

The update comes as elementary and middle school students are back in the classroom for one last week before the Mardi Gras holiday. High School students, who have not returned to the classroom since concerning COVID-19 case numbers in early January shuttered campuses, are set to return after Mardi Gras break. 

Two campuses make up for more than half of the people quarantining. At ReNEW SciTech Academy, where there is one reported student case, 78 people are quarantining. At Mary D. Coghill Elementary School, the only school run directly by the district, one student and one staff case has led to 60 people quarantining. 

Meanwhile, with Mardi Gras fast approaching — and the days-long celebrations that surround it — concerns linger about potentially increasing the spread of the virus just as new variants of the virus have been detected in the city. Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who has been criticized for promoting the Carnival season to visitors, announced Friday that bars citywide will close Feb. 12 through Feb. 16, among other restrictions meant to limit crowds. City officials closed four bars over the weekend and three more on Monday for violating public health policies and city restrictions.

Asked about the confirmed presence of the COVID-19 UK variant in the city, which may be up to 50 percent more transmissible, NOLA Public Schools spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo said the district is continuing to take precautions and hasn’t changed its operations.

“Our schools continue to adhere to the safety measures laid out in the Roadmap to Reopening, as well as those recommended by health officials and our medical advisors,” Alfonzo wrote in an email. “These include, wearing masks, staying socially distanced, washing hands, using hand sanitizer and getting tested regularly. These safety measures continue to apply as long as this pandemic continues.

The district last week expanded it’s COVID-19 tracker to allow the public to view cumulative case information and a week-by-week breakdown of cases at individual school sites.

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...