(New Orleans – November 19, 2020) – Ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday, NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) is encouraging New Orleanians to continue to adhere to safety measures that slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our school communities safe.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. We have made a tremendous effort across New Orleans to stay safe, and that is why our schools are open while many cities are closing their schools,” said NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “Let’s keep it up. Please limit your amount of contact with people outside of your immediate family during the holidays. Mask up. Stay socially distanced. Wash your hands. We can do this, together.”

Dr. Lewis, NOLA-PS Chief Operating Officer Tiffany Delcour, NOLA-PS medical adviser Dr. Ben Springgate, and Greater New Orleans Foundation CEO & President Andy Kopplin spoke to the media Thursday, Nov. 19, to inform the public about the latest COVID-19 tracking data and the status of in-person learning in NOLA-PS schools.

NOLA-PS follows the same metrics as the City of New Orleans, as well as information specific to its schools, to make data-driven decisions about its operations.

While city data show a rise in the average daily new cases, other metrics are staying strong. As a city we are below the 5-percent positivity rate and our community has robust access to COVID-19 testing. These factors and information delivered from our schools show there isn’t a need for a system-wide closure at this time.

The citywide metrics tracked include:

New cases per day above 50 (7-day average)
         o An increase over the 7-day average would need to be part of a trend of results of “community spread” to influence decision-making, not an identified or contained outbreak.)
         o New case demographics may influence more specific alterations to our current school model.
Positive test rate above 5% (higher test rate would need to be part of a trend)
Loss of testing capacity for symptomatic individuals with responsible turnaround times

Additionally, schools self-report confirmed COVID-19 cases and close contacts to NOLA-PS every week. NOLA-PS reports these data to the public on its COVID-19 Case Tracker dashboard.

Prior to reverting to full-time distance learning, the District has options it can exercise to help mitigate the number of cases within our school community. They include: restricting extracurricular activities, reducing the number of grades served with in-person learning, and reducing classroom size, transportation capacity, and group maximums.

As we work to ensure our NOLA-PS family remains healthy and safe through the duration of the pandemic, the District is continuing to provide comprehensive frontline access to COVID-19 testing options for our students and educators, in partnership with our local hospitals.

Recently, the District was awarded a total of $775,000 in grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation for testing. Ultimately, the funding will be dedicated to building a plan to expand upon our existing work of providing responsive and routine testing options in order to make them readily accessible to our school community. The funding could go towards tests and nursing teams to carryout routine screenings, surveillance, and/or more responsive units.

COVID-19 Cases

As of noon on Thursday, November 19, the District is tracking a total of 54 active cases of COVID-19 (30 staff; 24 students) among our school community. Of the 54 cases, 45 were newly confirmed within the past seven days.

The District’s COVID-19 Case Tracker reports active cases over an approximately two-week period. For the purposes of our dashboard, an active case is defined as a COVID-19 case that is confirmed and within their isolation period.

All schools are required to report positive cases to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the District. The District is continuing to stay on top of updates, collaborate with state and local agencies, and work closely with our school leaders, task force, and community stakeholders to ensure a safe 2020-2021 school year.

The data included in our COVID-19 Tracker reflects self-reported cases from our schools and provides the real-time impact of the pandemic in our school community. The goal is to provide teachers, staff, students and parents with information that can help inform decisions they make for themselves and the NOLA-PS family.


ABOUT NOLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: NOLA Public Schools is the public school district for Orleans Parish, which includes the district’s elected school board, known as the Orleans Parish School Board and the district’s administration led by NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. NOLA Public Schools currently oversees 76 public schools.

For more information, visit www.nolapublicschools.com. For updates, follow NOLA Public Schools on Facebook @NOLAPublicSchools, Instagram @nolaps and Twitter @NOLAPSchools.