From June 2021, seventeen-year-old Terrence receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Booker T. Washington High School after the CDC lowers the eligibility age to 12. (Marta Jewson/The Lens)

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 112 staff and students COVID-19 cases this week, an increase from the previous week, more than double the 49 cases the district reported last week

Of the 112 cases, 91 are in students and 21 in staff across 24 campuses. Forty of those cases, or more than one-third of the total, were reported from Benjamin Franklin High School. 

“It’s always difficult to speculate exactly what causes a spike like this, but our best guess is that it is related to travel and activities over spring break,” Franklin spokeswoman Eve Peyton wrote in an email. 

The school also hosted prom on April 22, the Friday before spring break began. 

“We are planning to test the school community tomorrow, as we do every Tuesday, because we want to ensure we have the most current data to inform our response and make sure we are reacting appropriately,” she wrote in an email Monday night.

She said the school also reinstated its indoor mask policy on Monday, after the school nurse noted a rise in cases.

The school district now relies on Louisiana Department of Health data, rather than schools directly reporting to the district. The state reported 54 cases in Orleans Parish last week. The state does not publicly disclose a school-by-school case count. However, superintendents across the state receive more detailed reports that include a school-by-school breakdown of cases, according to district officials.

The district facilitated 11,410 tests last week with a test positivity rate of .78 percent. That equates to roughly 88 cases, which is relatively close to this week’s case count. In previous weeks, the district’s percentage positivity has not aligned with the number of positive cases reported. 

Cases citywide have also seen an uptick. 

The city of New Orleans is reporting an average of 57 new cases each day with an average positivity rate of 2.8 percent. Both are slightly higher than last week when the city was averaging 50 cases a day with a positivity rate of 1.7 percent.

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...