Students at 42 Charter School have their temperatures checked on the first day of in-person classes since COVID-19 shuttered schools in March of 2020.

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 36 “active” COVID-19 cases among students and staff, and 93 people are quarantining after being exposed to a positive case, according to the district’s weekly report released Monday. 

The district also reported 36 cases last week, though the share of students reporting infections increased this week. The number of people quarantined grew from 75 last week to 93 this week.

The cases are among five staff and 31 students across 18 school campuses in the district.

The district’s data tracker lists dozens of schools with zero cases and zero quarantines. But it is unclear whether all of those campuses actually had zero cases or if some had trouble submitting their case reports by the district’s deadline. 

The rate of school-based testing reported two weeks ago week was significantly lower than normal because of school breaks during the Mardi Gras holiday. This week’s report, however, showed the district administered more than 17,000 tests last week, close to its pre-Mardi Gras rate. Still, reported cases remained low.

“This week’s COVID-19 data is great news,” NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said, per a district release Monday afternoon. “If the city-wide numbers continue to remain low, we will look to lift the District’s universal masking recommendation next week. I know our school community is looking forward to returning to a sense of normalcy and seeing our students and staff’s smiling faces.”

The release stated that the district would change its reporting next month if cases remain low. 

“Since our COVID-19 tracking data continues to remain low, beginning Monday, April 11, the COVID Tracker will only report the counts of COVID-19 cases identified in the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) COVID-19 data,” it stated. 

Unlike the district-collected data, the publicly available state reports don’t list schools by name, nor do they differentiate between private and public schools — they only list cases by parish. But the district press release said that future reports will include weekly cases by school. 

State health department officials have said they can’t provide school-level information in epidemiological cases. 

Two weeks ago, one day after Mardi Gras, the city announced it would lift its indoor mask mandate. But district officials said they would continue to recommend universal masking in schools for another two weeks.

The district could decide to lift its mask recommendation as early as Monday depending on health data. District officials have said they would announce that decision on Friday. 

The city of New Orleans as a whole is averaging 42 new COVID-19 cases per day with a test positivity rate average of 2.2 percent — both slight increases from the week prior. 

The city is reporting that nearly 63 percent of children ages five to 17-years-old are fully vaccinated and at least 48 percent have received their first dose. Those rates are slightly behind the city’s adult population, which has been eligible for vaccines for a longer period of time.

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...