UPDATE: As of Wednesday, Dec. 3, 109 students in the St. Helena Parish School District have been quarantined due to COVID-19 cases at three of its schools.
GREENSBURG, La. (WAFB) - Officials with the St. Helena Parish School District took extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as students returned from Thanksgiving break Monday, Nov. 30.
“I didn’t want him bringing [COVID-19] to me because he lives with me,” explains Vanessa Travis, whose nephew is a fifth-grader at the St. Helena Early Learning Center.
Her nephew was one of the 300 students tested for COVID-19 by the school district Monday.
“I think that’s a good thing. They need to be tested because too many kids are out here at school, half of them get sick and they don’t know who got this. So I’m glad they got tested,” she says.
Travis is considered “high risk” due to her age and was worried her nephew might get exposed to the virus by his classmates returning from Thanksgiving break. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, health experts warned the holiday could be a super spreader event if people did not practice COVID-19 mitigation measures.
“We understand that this test is just a snapshot,” explains St. Helena Parish School District Superintendent Kelli Joseph.
The superintendent says it’s important to make sure no student is coming back infected and that’s why every single student returning to the classroom was tested Monday.
“We want to keep our schools open. It’s important that our students have access to their teachers face to face,” Joseph says.
Of the 300 students who were tested Monday, Joseph says 16 students tested positive for COVID-19. Teachers sent those students who tested positive home to be quarantined.
“We wanted to make sure that our campuses were safe and our students and our employees were in an environment and a safe environment and that they were healthy,” Joseph says.
She says parents could opt their child out of being tested but that would require a 14-day quarantine before returning to campus. Joseph hopes to provide more testing throughout the school year and is not ruling out making it mandatory again.
The superintendent tells WAFB’s Austin Kemker, as of now, no parent has refused to have their child tested for COVID-19.
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