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)

Note: The district later reported that quarantine figures in this story had been underreported due to a data error.

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 54 “active” cases of COVID-19 resulting in 80 people quarantining, according to its weekly report issued Monday. The case count is down from 65 cases last week, according to the district’s weekly report issued Monday. 

The district has reported 1,312 cases among staff and students so far this school year, including those cases no longer considered active. 

Cases have declined over the last two weeks after a slight uptick when the district began reporting again after Hurricane Ida closed school for weeks. District officials strongly recommended — and some schools required — students to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school, which likely prevented many exposures.

Of the 54 cases reported this week, 6 are among staff and 48 are among students. The cases are spread across 34 schools in the district, close to half the district’s schools. While the majority of cases are again being reported in K-8 schools, where most students aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, several cases were reported in high schools this week as well.

Two cases at New Harmony High School resulted in 19 people quarantining, one-quarter of reported quarantines this week.

Only students ages 12 and older are eligible for vaccines — though Pfizer recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve the vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. City high schools are requiring students who participate in extracurricular activities to be vaccinated, in addition to a requirement for all staff to receive the vaccine. 

The city is averaging 37 new cases a day and has hovered around a one percent positivity rate for two weeks, according to city data.

Though diagnosed cases increased a bit after the storm, that was likely due to a significant decrease in testing during and after Hurricane Ida, which left nearly 1 million people without power for days if not weeks. 

The storm closed schools for weeks and the district also gave its staff additional time to receive and report their vaccine status, which was required by Sept. 30 under a new policy passed in August. Vaccination rates for staff and students should be available this month.

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...