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COVID figures trending down for school district

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Lincoln Parish School District’s COVID-19 case and absence outlook this week is the best it’s been since the first few days of the school year.

Data collected by school nurses Tuesday shows the total number of COVID-related absences across the parish that day was at its lowest point since Aug. 24, the fourth day of school.

104 students in the system were absent from school Tuesday due to a positive case of the respiratory illness or “close contact” exposure to a case — 43 cases and 61 exposures.

That’s a COVID absentee rate of 1.89%. It’s the first time that figure has been under 2% since the first count on Aug. 24. Since then, the rate has been as high as 3.5% at times.

“Our numbers look really good right now — we’re way down,” Superintendent Ricky Durrett told the Lincoln Parish School Board at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Durrett said Thursday that none of the positive cases in the district have resulted in serious health complications.

Four schools in the system reported no cases on Tuesday, and two also reported no COVID absences of any kind — a better outlook than in previous reports.

The biggest cluster of cases and absences is at Ruston High School, which is the most populated school in the district and is also coming off its recent homecoming activities, to which Durrett attributes some of the spread.

Just three employees across the district were out with COVID on Tuesday, with zero quarantining for exposure. All three cases were teachers — no support staff were out with a case or exposure.

The district is sticking with its 10-day quarantine policy for anyone deemed a close contact of a COVID case as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, with an option to return on the eighth day with a negative test between days five and seven.

Louisiana Department of Education has made a new option available to let parents decide whether their student should quarantine or stay at school, but many districts have declined to opt into the change as other state health and education officials have condemned the move.