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 tracking eight “active” COVID-19 cases among staff and students as of this week, leading to 125 quarantines, according to the district’s weekly case-tracking data posted Tuesday afternoon. The case count is a slight decrease from last week when the district reported 12 cases. that led to 116 quarantines.

Of the eight cases, four are staff and four are students. Six of the cases were newly reported within the last week. Many schools began some version of a spring break over the last week. Nearly all the quarantined people are concentrated in two schools, with 50 from Andrew Wilson Charter School resulting from two student cases and 54 people quarantined from KIPP Central City Primary from one staff case.

Several factors could cause cases connected to schools to grow over the next few weeks. The Easter holiday, spring break and eased health restrictions all coinciding could lead to more cases. (Over the weekend the city eased some health restrictions, allowing for larger gatherings.) Meanwhile, some COVID-19 variants that have appeared across the country may spread more easily in children, especially at activities like youth sports that can’t be played with masks.

However, growing rates of vaccinations could help keep those risk factors in check. More than 37 percent of city residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 24 percent are fully vaccinated. And the city’s case count has dropped to an average of 17 new cases per day over a week’s time. COVID-19 test positivity rate in the city has also dropped to 0.7 percent, down from a high of near 10 percent in early January, which forced schools to return to virtual learning for six weeks. 

With roughly six weeks left in the school year, educators are preparing for standardized testing and end of the year activities leading up to graduation. Graduations won’t have to be drive-through or online-only like last year, but they must adhere to health guidelines. 

The events must be ticketed, attendees must wear masks and six feet of social distancing between “family units” which are limited to 10 people. Indoor ceremonies will be limited to 33 percent capacity and outdoor events can be up to 50 percent capacity, according to city guidelines.

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...