To send children to school as the number of cases of coronavirus increases again, New Orleans has COVID-19 to detect it in students and staff who are infected with a potentially deadly virus but do not see it. Symptoms that have become one of the five cities in the United States to expand the test.
Authorities announced Tuesday that NOLA Public Schools will spend $ 775,000, most of which will be used for additional testing within the school through joint grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The new initiative will give families access to rapid testing through an emergency health center, in addition to the efforts already underway through the New Orleans Department of Health, the Oxner Health System and the Children’s Hospital New Orleans. A handful of mobile test sites Installed in the city.
In October, the school system extended the test from people in close contact with people who were symptomatic and known to be infected with the virus to asymptomatic students, teachers and staff. ..
However, authorities said the Rockefeller Foundation grant and $ 100,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation would make more tests readily available to schools until the end of the 2020-21 school year. He said it was important to keep school infection rates low.
In a release announcing a new initiative, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “We have made the safe return of children to school a priority milestone for the continued phased reopening of our city. I did. ” “We continue to prioritize the health and safety of our children.”
At the same time, the test announcement states that New Orleans is at the “code red” level of the COVID-19 warning and that residents should treat everyone as having the virus for widespread community spread. Warned with.
The Orleans parish has more than 14,500 COVID-19 cases, the third highest in the state after Jefferson and East Baton Rouge.
In a statement, NOLA Public School Director Henderson Lewis said the school district’s collaborative testing efforts were “essential for maintaining face-to-face learning” and will continue plans to reopen the school district to connect on-campus learning in the future. He said it would be the key to. For infection rates throughout the city.
Students from PreK to 4th grade have returned to the classroom full time from September 14th. Students from grades 5 to 12 begin a gradual transition to a hybrid schedule on October 12, with some days on campus and some virtual days.
Approximately 40% of families throughout the district have decided to maintain full virtualization, but officials said they expect that number to decline in the next semester.
It is unclear when all students will be able to return full-time, or if the outbreak will force the school to return to virtual-only learning, but district officials hope to stop the latter. I will.
Other school districts in the country, such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York City, are returning to distance learning due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases.Outlets nationwide It warns parents across the country to prepare for the next major school closure.
“As we move forward for this school year, the extended COVID-19 test remains an important part of our resumption strategy-and remains open-” Lewis said. ..
New Orleans has recently been one of five cities or states that agrees with the guidelines set by the Duke Margolis Health Policy Center, the Johns Hopkins Health and Security Center, and the Rockefeller Foundation, according to Rajiv J. Shah. became. Rockefeller Foundation.
Report from the organization entitled Risk assessment and testing considerations for reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection in kindergarten to high school schools, Studies have shown that most children are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, making it difficult to identify potential cases using temperature checks and other more obvious screening methods. It is required to create an “early warning system”.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped fund real-time test pilots in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Louisville, Rhode Island, and Tulsa to detect the incident early.
According to a release on Rockefeller’s program, New Orleans will fund an additional 20,000 antigen tests to allow school districts and their health partners to conduct pilot programs for students and staff “in one or two school environments.” Can be funded.
New Orleans college officials blame Halloween for quarantining students after being exposed to the coronavirus
According to Rockefeller’s news release, screening will be done twice a week for students and school staff and will undergo a “gold standard PCR test” for cases of positive antigens.
District officials did not immediately say whether to focus on the two schools. Instead, district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo said authorities would develop a “customized plan to run tests based on risk assessment, community priorities, test performance, and communication,” and finally program. Said that it could lead to more regular screening or monitoring.
Officials say the Greater New Orleans Foundation will donate $ 100,000 to increase COVID-19 testing, medical staff, and data tracking “to inform you how to optimally marshall available resources.” Said to promote pilot activities.
In a statement, the city’s director of health, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, said testing could become more important as residents face the cold winter months, exacerbating respiratory illness and complicating cases of COVID-19. He said he had sex.
“Delaying the spread of this virus is the cornerstone of our efforts, and it is especially important to help treat both COVID and the potential increase in influenza cases this winter,” Avegno said. ..