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 11 “active” cases of COVID-19 in students and staff and 31 people are in quarantine after being exposed to a positive case, according to the district’s weekly report.

This week’s numbers represent roughly one-third of the cases and quarantines reported last week, when the district was monitoring 36 cases and 93 quarantines in its first post-Mardi Gras report. 

Of this week’s 11 cases, eight are students and three are staff. The cases are across seven school campuses in the city. Half of the student cases and quarantines were reported from Morris Jeff Community School’s elementary school campus on South Lopez Street.

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. 

Cases throughout the city have remained low in recent weeks. The city was averaging 17 new cases per day with a 1.7 percent test positivity rate. 

On Friday, the district announced it would drop its universal masking recommendation beginning Monday. That comes as the city is lifting restrictions in light of dropping numbers as well. 

“I am excited for our students and staff to be able to interact with each other in a more natural way and return to a sense of normalcy,” schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. said in a released statement. “For anyone who feels more comfortable wearing a mask in school, we encourage them to continue to do so.”

On Monday, the city of New Orleans also dropped a requirement that people show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants and other establishments. The mandate had been in place since August, when the delta variant was setting daily case count records. 

“It’s a day many of us have been waiting for, and I know our school community is looking forward to returning to a sense of normalcy,” Lewis said in Monday’s statement.

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...