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NOLA-PS leaders say student quarantine numbers show the system is working

“Through the safety measure of quarantine, students and staff are staying home and getting tested and limiting the opportunity to spread the virus.”

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Public School leaders held a press conference Thursday saying that yes, the number of students and staff members in quarantine is high, but that’s a sign that their mitigation measures are working.

NOLA-PS releases data on COVID-19 cases and people in quarantine due to possible exposure every Monday. This week, there were 299 active cases among students and staff alone with 3,004 people in quarantine due to exposure.

NOLA-PS COO Tiffany Delcour said that 102 of those active cases, about one-third, are people who tested positive before they set foot inside a school.

“This number does not represent COVID-19 spreading in our schools, but the exact opposite — the protective measures we’re putting in place to stop that,” she said.

NOLA-PS health advisor DR. Benjamin Springgate said that transmission inside schools is low, with only 2 percent of students tested for COVID-19 coming back positive. He said the quarantine measures are a big reason why that’s happening.

“Quarantine is one of the proven mitigation measures that slows the spread of the virus,” Dr. Springgate said. “Through the safety measure of quarantine, students and staff are staying home and getting tested and limiting the opportunity to spread the virus.”

Dr. Springgate also reinforced the importance of other mitigation measures put in place, such as wearing masks, getting vaccinated if possible and staying home when you’re showing COVID-19 symptoms.

As for virtual learning, NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis said that there are no plans to return to it on a mass scale, but that parents with concerns should speak with their school’s leaders.

“We understand that this is very trying times and if you have concern about in-person learning at this time, go see your child’s school leader, go to the school, have that conversation, get the information you need,” Lewis said. “Go to your physician and lets go through the entire process.”