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School COVID cases trending down as Omicron variant slows

Wednesday, February 9, 2022
School COVID cases trending down as Omicron variant slows

COVID-related student absences in Lincoln Parish public schools are at their lowest total in two months as signs point to Louisiana’s Omicron variant-driven fifth surge of the virus continuing to trend down.

The school district reported on Tuesday that 48 students across 12 schools were absent either because they had to quarantine after exposure to covid-19 (36) or because they had tested positive or were symptomatic (12).

That’s the district’s lowest count since Dec. 7, before the Omicron surge pushed new cases to record highs across the state.

“It looks like we are about to get back to normal,” Chief Pandemic Officer Lisa Bastion said. “It looks like we’ve weathered the storm.”

Tuesday’s 48 COVID absences compares favorably to the parish’s record 431 on Jan. 12. It’s the first recorded date in the new year when the total was less than 100.

This follows the statewide flow of case numbers, which reached a towering all-time high the week of Jan. 8 and has been gradually decreasing since then, finally falling under the peak totals from the state’s four previous surges last week.

Meanwhile, just 11 school district employees were out for COVID reasons on Tuesday, down from the 46 reported on Jan. 19 after schools returned from an extra two-day closure.

But Bastion said there were still 22 substitutes on campuses Tuesday, and the district was still short 10 employee positions, which as usual are being filled by teachers and workers covering for one another.

It’s still a “definite improvement” over the workforce situation of January, she said.

Beyond just COVID, student absences are down across the board, with 7.8% of the student body out of school on Tuesday, compared to the high of 21% in mid-January.

“There were four different viruses I had been informed about going around after the holidays,” Bastion said. “There was also flu, strep, and COVID.

Hopefully now we’re on the mend.”