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State college, grade school COVID cases released

Friday, September 25, 2020
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Correction: School district isolation requirements changed to 10 days instead of 14

The Louisiana Department of Health has released COVID-19 case figures it has gathered from both higher education institutions and K-12 districts across the state, though both reports do not specifically indicate where the confirmed cases are located.

At the collegiate level, as of Thursday the LDH reported 1,603 positive cases of the novel coronavirus among students, faculty and staff at higher education institutions statewide.

That number is cumulative beginning at the start of the fall semester, meaning not all of those cases are necessarily still active.

Of that number, 1,409 of the cases are students living or taking classes on a campus, with 29 attending exclusively virtual classes. Another 149 are faculty or staff working on campus, with 16 faculty or staff working 100% virtually.

The report notes that not all institutions who report to the LDH track cases among virtual students or staff.

These figures include the 97 total positive cases for the first full week of the fall quarter that Louisiana Tech University reported Saturday. Tech sent those figures to the LDH on Sept. 18 before releasing them online and is expected to send its next count of self-reported positives for Sept. 17-23 to the state today.

Grambling State University is also included in the statewide numbers, but officials said GSU does not plan to publish its own campus case totals independently.

Meanwhile, the LDH reports a total of 523 positive cases among some 1,103 K-12 schools across the state who are enrolled in the LDH’s reporting system.

In Region 8, the 12-parish region in the northeast section of the state which includes Lincoln Parish, the LDH lists 76 total cases — 33 among faculty, staff and volunteers and 43 among students. How many of those cases were reported by Lincoln Parish schools is unknown.

Cases are self-reported by the school systems and are not verified by the LDH.

Following LDH and Centers for Disease Control guidelines, if a student, faculty or staff member in Lincoln Parish tests positive for the coronavirus, they must isolate at home for at least 10 days before returning to school and can only do so once they are asymptomatic and have not run a fever for the last 24 hours. The school must also determine who may have been a close contact of that positive case, which is defined as having been within six feet of that person for more than 15 minutes.

Anyone determined to be a close contact must quarantine at home for 14 days.

Lincoln Parish schools have been back in session since Aug. 19 with a mix of virtual, in-person and hybrid learning formats. Despite the state’s transition into Phase Three of economic reopening, the school system elected to continue using the “AB” alternating day schedule for students in grades 7-12 until the end of the first nineweek grading period on Oct. 19.