The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 50 “active” cases of COVID-19 among staff and students, and 364 people are quarantining after coming into close contact with known cases, according to the district’s most recent weekly report released Monday afternoon. 

That’s an increase from last week, when the district reported 32 active cases — meaning they had been diagnosed within two weeks of the report — and 275 people in quarantine. 

So far this school year the district has reported 1,486 cases of COVID-19 among staff and students — nearly double the 774 cases reported through all of last school year. Last week the district’s total reported cases this school year stood at 1,440, indicating that of the 50 active cases in the report, 46 were newly diagnosed last week.

The 50 cases in this week’s report include nine staff and 41 students across 24 campuses. Like many prior weeks, the majority of cases have been reported from elementary schools, where until recently, the majority of children were not eligible for a vaccine. 

The schools with the most identified cases in this week’s report are Lusher Charter School’s elementary campus and Plessy Community Schools Treme campus. 

Lusher’s elementary campus, located on Willow Street, reported nine new cases over the last week. More than 150 people are quarantined due to exposure. The charter’s middle and high school campus on Freret Street also reported seven cases and 15 people quarantined.

Late Monday night, Lusher informed families that the Willow Street campus would be closed Tuesday due to a “major plumbing emergency.” It’s unclear exactly what the issue is.

Plessy Community School’s Craig campus in Treme is tracking eight cases, a five case increase over last week, which has resulted in 73 people quarantined. The campus serves pre-kindergarten and fifth through eighth grade students.

Plessy’s CEO Meghan Raychaudhuri said the cases at the Craig campus were linked to siblings and sleepovers.

“We have completed contact tracing and a large portion of the increase in cases resulted from positive cases from siblings living in the same household as well as outside events, such as sleepovers and birthday parties,” Raychauduri said. “We have reviewed our contact tracing with LDH and they agree with our assessment.”

Lusher’s administrators did not immediately respond to questions.

Since reporting 19 cases in the first week of October, Mary McLeod Bethune School’s case counts have dropped, but the school continued to report 3 cases and 21 quarantines this week.

Schools are required to report cases to the district and Louisiana Department of Health. 

Two weeks ago the CDC approved expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for children, and the NOLA Public Schools district has begun offering shots to children ages 5 and older.

On Saturday, the district will offer vaccines from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mildred Osborne Elementary at 6701 Curran Blvd. There are four vaccination events planned at different schools during the first days of the following Thanksgiving holiday week and one the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day. 

The city of New Orleans is averaging 25 new cases per day with a test positivity rate that’s been below one percent since mid-October. While new cases have held fairly steady locally, they’ve been rising in other parts of the country, including the Midwest and Northeast, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Thirty-one percent of the city’s children, ages 5 to 17, have started the two-dose vaccination series and one-quarter are fully vaccinated, according to city health data. More than 77 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, according to that data set.

Two weeks ago, 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

The district’s vaccination schedule can be found here.

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...