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 four “active” cases of COVID-19 among staff and students, and 15 people are quarantining after contact to a positive case. 

This week’s report will be among the last including data generated locally. Beginning April 11, the district will be using data that schools report to the Louisiana Department of Health. According to district officials, that will include case counts by school, though LDH does not provide school case counts in its public-facing database, which reported 27 cases in Orleans Parish schools in its most recent data released last week. That report said that more than 50 percent of the cases identified in the report, which covers every parish in the state, were based on test samples that were more than a month old.

Monday’s NOLA Public Schools press release appeared to suggest that some schools are already reporting their data only to the state and have stopped submitting to the district.  

“While schools are required to continue to report cases to the state, many schools are gradually relieving themselves of the extra burden of reporting the data to the District, which goes above and beyond what’s required by health officials, and the COVID Tracker data from this point forward may reflect this,” the release said. 

Neither district spokesman Rich Rainey nor spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo immediately responded to phone calls seeking clarification on that language. 

This week’s case count is down from last week, when the district was tracking 11 cases and 31 people were in quarantine last week, near record lows of cases since the delta and omicron waves resulted in surges in the city last fall and in early January, respectively. 

Last week, both the district and city lifted various COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers remained low in the city for three weeks following Mardi Gras. The district is no longer recommending universal masking in its schools, and the city no longer requires diners, retail shoppers or customers at many other indoor businesses to be vaccinated or present a negative COVID test to enter. 

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 city is averaging 12 new cases per day and a one percent test positivity rate, according to city-reported data.

Eighty-six percent of New Orleans residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 77 percent are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates for children ages 5- to 17-years-old have continued to rise, just over 63 percent have received a first dose of the vaccine and nearly 50 percent are fully vaccinated. 

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...