By T. Scott Boatright
As the number of COVID cases continues to surge throughout the state, Lincoln Preparatory School students will return to class online today as opposed to attending the first day of the new year in a classroom.
On Sunday, the school sent a message to parents saying, “As you probably already know, COVID numbers in Louisiana are very high. We have several faculty and staff members and students who have notified us of positive test results. For the safety of our school, we have made the decision to be 100% virtual until COVID numbers improve.”
During what was scheduled to be a professional development meeting for instructors on Monday, Lincoln Prep teachers instead used the day tol plan for virtual school work.
The Louisiana Department of Health has reported that the number of patients hospitalized with COVID in Louisiana more than doubled over the past week, climbing to its highest point in over three months.
On Monday the LDH reported statewide hospitalizations surged to 1,106 over the New Year’s holiday weekend. That number is up from 514 one week ago — Dec. 27 — and up from 762 on Thursday.
Fifty of the patients reported to be hospitalized Monday were on ventilators according to the LDH, which also reported another 15 COVID-related deaths were also reported over the weekend.
The last time Louisiana reported more than 1,100 COVID patients in hospitals was on Sept. 23, when the state was in the midst of its fourth coronavirus surge.
Louisiana has reported more than 31,000 new cases since Dec. 20, a surge spurred largely by the spread of the Omicron variant. Of the recent cases, 5,873 new ones have been reported since Sunday.
Lincoln Parish school system students will return to the classroom this morning, with no mask mandate in place although Superintendent Ricky Durrett said last week that students are highly encouraged to wear masks, especially in light of the ongoing new COVID surge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested the state students not participate in social gatherings with individuals outside their everyday household, such as pep rallies and school dances, until the statewide incidence rate is below 200 infections per 100,000 people.
Lincoln Prep Director/CEO Gordan Ford said that his school’s decision to return to the classroom will likely be based on time as much as numbers.
“We’re just going to go virtual for a week, maybe two depending on what all happens,” Ford said. “I have a number of teachers and students that are positive. We’re trying to give folks a week or two to settle down from all the moving around during the holidays and see if this settles down some.
“With the number of teachers that we have — I’ve got some positive with COVID and some that thought they had COVID but are positive with the flu, and a decent number of kids, too. We just felt the safest thing to do was to kind of ease back into things by starting off virtually. We’re hoping it will be no more than two weeks. I know other schools don’t want to do this kind of thing, but I think our population is a little more cautious than some other folks are, so we’re kind of taking that tone. Hopefully it will be just for a week or two.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in early spring of 2020, Louisiana has reported 850,856 cases and 15,001 deaths resulting from the virus as of Monday’s LDH update.
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