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)

NOLA Public Schools district officials are tracking 32 “active” cases of COVID-19 among students and staff, a drop from the 40 cases reported last week. 

The district is also reporting 183 people are in quarantine due to close contact with those cases. Last week, the district reported 275 people in quarantine. 

So far this school year the district has reported 1,440 cases of COVID-19 among staff and students — nearly double the 774 cases reported through all of last school year. 

Last week, the CDC expanded COVID vaccine eligibility to children between 5 and 11 years old, giving district and public health officials high hopes for continued low case counts.

The district, pharmacies, local doctors and hospitals are working to make the vaccine available for children. There are several options for children to receive the vaccine. In New Orleans children ages 5-17, 31 percent have started the vaccine series and 24.7 percent are fully vaccinated, according to city data. Nearly 77 percent of the adult population in the parish is fully vaccinated.

The city as a whole is averaging 25 new cases of COVID-19 per day, down substantially from the mid-summer delta surge and a post-Ida bump in September following the restoration of testing. The city is also reporting a positivity rate of under one percent as of this week. 

Last week, district officials hosted a town hall with City Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno and several other pediatric specialists to answer parent questions. The full video is available to view and The Lens compiled a brief summary of the doctors’ answers to frequently asked questions

NOLA Public Schools will host its first Saturday clinic drive on Saturday. There will be several sites, one of which is Arthur Ashe Charter School (1456 Gardena Drive) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. District officials also said they will likely host vaccination events the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving break week. They are trying to plan events on non-school days so parents can be present for vaccinations with younger children. Several other vaccination clinics from Nov. 20 and on have also been scheduled.

Of this week’s 32 reported active cases — meaning cases diagnosed in the past two weeks — 28 are among students and 4 are among staff. Those cases are spread out among 17 school campuses. Most cases reported by the school district are among people connected to elementary schools, where the majority of students only became eligible for vaccines last week. Students must wait three weeks in between their first and second shot, and it takes another two weeks before one is considered fully vaccinated. 

Students who are identified as a close contact of a positive case do not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and remain asymptomatic.

This story was updated to include a confirmation from district officials that 183 people were quarantining as of Monday.

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...