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Schools preparing to welcome students back as COVID cases rise

With only a few weeks before school starts, officials are watching a worrisome trend in COVID-19 cases

NEW ORLEANS — School districts in the area are keeping a close eye on the concerning rise in COVID-19 cases. 

It comes as officials work to figure out how to bring students back to campus safely. On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended every person older than two wear a mask in school (whether vaccinated or not). 

NOLA Public Schools say they're working closely with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the city's health department and their own medical advisors to draft a plan for the upcoming school year.

With the delta variant in play, it's possible the guidelines outlined by local school districts could change, but so far, this is what your student can expect:

In New Orleans classrooms, there will be no limit on how many students can be there, though a social distance of three feet must be followed. Temperature checks are no more and students can dine in their school cafeteria as long as they maintain a safe distance from one another.

In a late Wednesday update after Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced a citywide indoor mask advisory, NOLA Public Schools updated its COVID-19 policy headed into the new school year. 

Any schools under the school district will require masks inside all school buildings, even for those who have been fully vaccinated. 

In an email, district officials said the change was being made to protect young students, who appear to be more vulnerable to the delta variant than the base strain and cannot get vaccinated. 

Also, school buses will be at 100% capacity with all students wearing a face covering. Seating charts may also be enforced in case close contacts need to be identified following a positive case.

Jefferson Parish Public Schools responded to our questions with a statement. They say:

"At JP Schools, we continue to prioritize providing the best education and learning environment possible for our students while keeping everyone safe. With new information regarding COVID-19 in our community, we have been actively monitoring the situation, analyzing data, and working with state and local public health officials to make informed decisions regarding how to safely open school this year. We will continue to ensure our mitigation measures prioritize the safety of our students and employees and are appropriate for the current health situation. We plan to communicate through various outlets to update everyone on our health and safety protocols as we get closer to the start of school on August 9."

Also, at this time, in St. Tammany Parish, we know masks will not be required for students and staff at St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, but they are encouraged for those who aren't vaccinated.

We have come a long way since the last school year, but we're not through this yet. So as your child gets ready to head back to class, districts say they're making sure it'll be a safe return, but advise you be ready in case plans change.

We will continue to follow this and will update you on air and online of any announcements made by school districts.