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 15 “active” COVID-19 cases among staff and students as of this week, leading to 254 quarantines, according to the district’s weekly case-tracking data posted Monday afternoon. The case count is slightly lower than last week’s numbers, when the district reported 21 cases and 305 people in quarantine.

Of the cases, seven were newly reported over the last week. Overall, 11 cases are in students and four in staff across 10 campuses. 

Three campuses are responsible for more than 60 percent of people quarantining. Homer Plessy Community School’s French Quarter camps has two student cases, leading to 55 people quarantining. Two cases at McDonogh 42 Charter School has 49 people in quarantine and one student case and two staff cases led to 52 quarantining at Morris Jeff High School.

Citywide, the average of new COVID-19 per day has increased over the last week, from 15 to 23, according to the city’s health data. The city’s average test positivity rate has increased in that time period too, from 0.8 percent to 1.1 percent. The city’s rate, as calculated by the state, has held steady at 0.7 percent, but the state’s calculation lags by about a week. 

Even though case counts remain low, public health officials have still expressed concern about COVID-19 variants that may spread easier than the initial strains. Last week, The CDC confirmed seven cases of the Brazilian variant of the virus have been found in Louisiana. 

Asked whether the district was aware of any cases associated with the ones diagnosed in school staff or students, NOLA Public Schools district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo wrote in an email: “NOLA Public Schools has not received information from any public health agency regarding the variant type of any active or new case of COVID-19.”

Nearly 45 percent of the city’s residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and just over 40 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. The city leads the state by several percentage points. 

On Monday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to expand eligibility to 12- to 15-year-olds as well. The vaccine was already approved for anyone 16 years of age or older.

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...