Lafourche schools delay reopening as COVID cases rise
Lafourche Parish public schools altered their plans for the start of classes Wednesday amid rising coronavirus cases locally and statewide.
Public schools in Lafourche had planned to start Aug. 6 with a mix of online and on-campus classes.
Classes will now start online-only on Aug. 10, Superintendent Jarod Martin said in a notice posted to the district’s website.
Classes will shift to a mix of online and on-campus classes starting Aug. 24. Parents can opt to have their children attend online only or go to school campuses on alternating days.
Martin cautioned that things could change depending on whether COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
“As we continue to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, please understand that our Return to School plan will be altered and routinely adjusted as needed,” Martin said. “We recognize that these are challenging times for everyone, but we must continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of our students, staff, and our community.”
Lafourche schools also halted all extracurricular activities Wednesday, including sports, band and cheerleading, until further notice.
Terrebonne schools took the same action a day earlier and postponed the start of classes, originally set for Aug. 5, until Sept. 8.
Residents need to take action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Parish President Archie Chaisson said during Tuesday night’s Lafourche Council meeting.
Chaisson said the area’s health-care system was not in immediate danger of being overwhelmed.
Lafourche had 18 hospitalizations as of Tuesday due to COVID-19. There are 731 ICU beds in the local hospital region. Of 121 ventilators, 18 were in use.
However, he said, over the past three days, there were 10 new hospitalizations due to the virus, and this worried him.
"While not overly concerned about the growth in numbers, again, it's the hospitalizations that always trend a few days behind the higher case count that have me worried," he said.
As of Wednesday, the state Department of Health reported 2,089 more cases. Louisiana topped 2,000 daily COVID cases for the fifth time in July after reaching that single-day total only two times in the previous four months.
The total statewide now sits at 84,131. Louisiana reported 14 more deaths Wednesday, bringing toll to 3,351.
Statewide, hospitalizations increased by seven to 1,369. Ventilator use ticked up from 146 to 149.
Terrebonne reported 74 new cases Wednesday for a total of 1,824. Deaths remained unchanged at 67.
There were 44 new cases in Lafourche for a total of 1,721. Deaths in Lafourche remained unchanged at 91. On Tuesday, Lafourche reported 65 cases -- its second highest number of cases since the pandemic began.
There are currently 27,492 active cases across the state, according to calculations.
The jump in numbers was expected, Chaisson said, because officials expected people to be out and gathering during the Fourth of July. That coupled with increased testing would reflect a higher rate of positive results. Currently, Chaisson said, 19% of Lafourche’s 98,000 residents have been tested.
Councilman Jerry Jones stressed that the virus had hit close to home for him already and that people need to treat the pandemic seriously.
"How many have lost any relative or close family member to COVID?" he asked. "This stuff is real and we need to take it seriously."
He placed a nameplate on the counter for emphasis as he spoke.
"This seat I am sitting in, right now, an auditor was sitting here, and he died of COVID-19. … I've lost a brother," Jones said. "I had a twin brother that had it, and it hit home, so I know how it feels."