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COVID & Schools: St. Landry Parish hoping to avoid the threshold

Posted at 7:17 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 20:17:07-05

St. Landry Parish – where the positivity rate for Covid-19 testing has risen to 6.6 percent.

The ripple effects, of course, means educators are on standby. “Within our region, our numbers have gone up significantly, and they are having an impact on our schools and how we educate children,” says St. Landry Parish Schools Superintendent Patrick Jenkins.

And so in St. Landry, Jenkins is looking for help in battling Covid-19. “So we’ve been watching our positivity rate very carefully; so again, we want to encourage the parish or the community to help us keep those numbers low. Again, we prefer it be under five percent, but 10% is our baseline.”

As Dr. Tina Stefanski, Regional Director of the Department of Health and Hospitals, watches those numbers-- and others-- her absolute best advice isn’t necessarily for the schools--- which she feels are doing the best they can; but rather for the parents and students about doing the right thing when they are out of school.

“What people and especially parents need to understand,” begins Stefanski, “is when your child is sent home for telelearning, that is the time to keep your child home. Do not let your kids hang out. It’s the last thing we want to do. It would be counter to what we want to do.”

It’s the congregating. It’s the visiting. It’s the parties away from school, adds Stefanski. The ignoring of recommended safety measures simply add up. “And at some point, it just gets to the point where it’s difficult to operate schools because you have so many kids and potentially faculty out.”

“Our biggest issue is not necessarily the positivity rate, but quarantining,” adds Jenkins. “It affects our schools our teachers and if you affect so many teachers, we may have to go back to virtual learning and no one wants that.”

Ten percent is the cutoff—but that’s multiple, consecutive weeks of 10-percent positivity or above when ‘virtual learning’ becomes a reality throughout the district.

By the way, I exchanged texts with Lafayette superintendent Irma Bourgeois. She says the decision to close schools or go virtual--- goes by a case-to-case basis and is done in conjunction with discussions with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

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