Despite fears, numbers show COVID-19 is not rampant in Baton Rouge area schools

West Feliciana Parish school officials say COVID-19 prevention measures are working to keep cases low

WEST FELICIANA PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Students in Louisiana have crossed the nine weeks milestone, it is an achievement many educators were unsure would happen at the start of the school year.

Some feared schools would be some sort of incubator for COVID-19.

“We had no idea how many cases, we didn’t know how many weeks or days we’d stay in school,” said Torrence Williams, the principal at Lower Bains Elementary in West Feliciana Parish. “Thank God we’ve had very few cases.”

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, West Feliciana Parish Schools only had a handful of cases according to the Louisiana Dept. of Health, none of which were associated with teachers or staff.

The numbers are similar across the region, East Feliciana, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Pointe Coupee parishes all only reporting between one and 10 cases since the beginning of the year. East Baton Rouge Parish Schools, the largest district in the area has the largest number of cases.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), 33 faculty, staff and volunteers have been infected, and 95 students have contracted the virus since returning to school. In Ascension Parish, there have been 54 cases total between staff and students.

“So far in our school system we have no evidence that as a part of the activity of having school has led to any spread,” said West Feliciana Superintendent Hollis Milton.

Despite having a small amount of the virus appear during the school year, Milton said his staff has been able to stem the spread by immediately quarantining anyone with symptoms and adhering to strict masking and social distancing guidelines.

“When we’ve had to deal with cases, they’re not cases that were the result of having school, they were just cases where people came in contact with people out in the community, at a community event or wherever they were,” Milton said. “As soon as we find out about it we start our quarantining process so that we can mitigate any potential spread.”

That means children can return to school safely, and Williams says they belong in the classroom.

“I can say with absolute certainty that what our students need, more than the academic piece of it, they need the social, emotional interactions with their peers,” Williams said.

To see the full list from LDH of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana schools, click here.

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