With Livingston Parish schools allowing all students to return to campus for traditional learning, the number of those in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus has increased over the last week, according to figures from Superintendent Joe Murphy.
As of Sept. 25, there were around 290 students and employees in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 or coming into close contact with a positive case. That’s a growth of nearly 200 from the week before but a figure that still represents a relatively low number (0.0096 percent) of the district’s total 30,000 students and employees.
Murphy gave the update in his weekly video message to the Livingston Parish Public Schools community, which can be found on the school system’s Youtube channel.
During the last Livingston Parish School Board meeting, Murphy credited the district’s cleaning efforts for helping keep the number of COVID-19 instances low and on a steady decline. Before last week's report, the number of people testing positive or coming into close contact had decreased each week.
However, Murphy acknowledged that with the district’s move to its Phase Three attendance plan — which allows for all students in grades K-12 to receive on-campus, five-days-a-week instruction — school leaders realized there was the possibility for a spike.
“We’re welcoming back a lot more students on our campuses, and we understand there’s a possibility these cases may rise as we welcome those students back,” Murphy told the School Board.
“We will treat every one of them as serious and we will move forward. and we will also report that, whether it’s an increase or a decrease.”
In August, Murphy said the district would release weekly updates pertaining to COVID-19. The release typically goes out every Friday and includes “any update on COVID-19 related news or numbers and our progress during this challenging time.”
The weekly update does not include information that can personally identify a student, family member, or employees, just the percentage of students and employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or come into close contact with a positive case.
Close contact is considered being within 6 feet of someone for at least 15 minutes.
As of Sept. 25, Murphy said that 0.00069 percent of the district’s students are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Another 0.0096 percent of students who were considered to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive are also in quarantine.
Based on the district’s roughly 26,000-student enrollment, that equates to about 18 positive tests among students and about 250 who came into close contact.
As of Sept. 25, Murphy said that 0.001 percent of the district’s employees are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, while 0.004 percent are in quarantine after being in close contact with a positive case.
Based on the district’s 4,000 employees, that equates to four positive tests among staff members and 16 who came into close contact.
While these figures represent the first increase since Murphy started reporting these numbers on a weekly basis, he said Livingston Parish remains “far below our state and regional average.”