Number of LPPS students, employees in quarantine drops below 100, superintendent tells School Board

Livingston Parish News

Courtesy of The Livingston Parish News.

LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (THELIVINGSTONPARISHNEWS)- The total number of Livingston Parish Public Schools students and employees currently in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus fell to just under 100 this week, according to figures provided by Superintendent Joe Murphy.

As of Sept. 16, there were 98 students and employees in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 or coming into close contact with a positive case, a figure that represents roughly 0.003266 percent of the district’s 30,000 students and employees.

That’s down by about 35 people from this time one week ago.

Last month, Murphy said the district would release weekly updates pertaining to COVID-19. The release typically goes out Friday every 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.

Murphy announced the new figures one day early, giving the update during Thursday’s meeting of the Livingston Parish School Board following a detailed explanation of measures the school system has taken to prepare for a school year unlike any other amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sept. 16, Murphy said that 0.000346 percent of the district’s students are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Another 0.003 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 less than 9 positive tests among students and exactly 78 who came into close contact, down by nearly 40 from this time a week ago.

As of Sept. 16, Murphy said that 0.0005 percent of the district’s employees are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, while 0.00225 percent are in quarantine after being in close contact with a positive case.

Based on the district’s 4,000 employees, that equates to two positive tests among staff members and nine who came into close contact. That is one less positive test from a week ago but three more in quarantine for coming into close contact.

During the School Board meeting, Murphy said that the total instances of COVID-19 has “decreased each week since we opened,” adding that “it is far below averages across the state and nation.”

“While we take every case seriously, we are absolutely confident that our mitigation efforts make Livingston Parish Public Schools safe for our students and our employees,” Murphy said.

Despite the steady decreases, Murphy said that could change over the upcoming weeks as more students come to campus.

With Gov. John Bel Edwards pushing the state to Phase Three of reopening last week, the school system is in the process of bringing students in grades 6-12 back to campuses for traditional instruction five days a week, something Murphy said “was met with excitement and optimism by our schools.”

By Monday, all but those who opted for the district’s 100 percent virtual model — which was 2,242 students as of Thursday — will be on campus for in-person learning.

That could lead to a spike in cases, something Murphy said the school system would remain transparent about moving forward.

“We understand there’s a possibility these cases may rise as we welcome those students back,” Murphy said. “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.”

Murphy didn’t release a video Friday with his weekly coronavirus update but instead released a video asking for support as the community grapples with the passing of Remy Hidalgo, a junior football player at Denham Springs High School who died early Friday morning.

“We will give an update on our district at a later time, as today our focus is on the loss of this very special young man,” Murphy said.

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