LPS reports 91 students test positive for COVID-19 this week

After a week of classes, Lincoln Public Schools is reporting that 91 students have tested positive for COVID-19.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – After a week of classes, Lincoln Public Schools is reporting that 91 students have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to data provided to Channel 8 by LPS, there were only seven students who tested positive for COVID in the first full week of classes last August.

In fact, it wasn’t until November 29, 2020, when student positive COVID cases topped 90.

So is this a cause for concern? LPS says that approximately 68% of students were in school buildings last year due to factors like staggered scheduling and remote learning.

Still, the case numbers are something to monitor over the next few weeks.

Channel 8 requested an on-camera interview with an LPS school official to discuss this week’s COVID numbers. LPS declined an interview, saying they don’t want to get in the habit of granting weekly interview requests about numbers.

However, Channel 8’s Andrew Ward spoke with LPS superintendent Dr. Steve Joel last week about the school district’s COVID concerns.

“The worry is that, you know, it’s not just going to be contained to a classroom or school, and it’s going to be something that could overwhelm Lincoln-Lancaster County,” Joel said on August 10.

Last year, LPS had a total enrollment of 41,562 students. (The school district uses last year’s enrollment numbers until October 1, when updated figures become available.)

91 students out of nearly 42,000 means that 0.21% of LPS students got infected this week.

That figure is similar to Lancaster County’s rate of approximately 0.14% of the population testing positive for COVID this week.

Lancaster County’s population is 322,608 [Source: U.S. Census – 2020].

The number of positive COVID-19 cases this week (as of 4:00 p.m. on Friday) was 479 [Source: Lancaster County NE COVID-19 Dashboard].

479 / 322,608 ≈ 0.0014 or 0.14 percent

Is there any chance of a school shutdown? Joel indicated last week that that option is off the table, although the district’s Return to School plan is fluid.

“We don’t have a Zoom or virtual option for students, they get removed for 10 to 14 days,” Joel said.

According to the Return to School plan, students who test positive for COVID or are considered close contacts and show symptoms, are required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. It’s on those students to work with their teachers to make up any work.

With one week of school in the books, it’s clear there will be bumps in the road as it pertains to positive cases, but Joel says LPS is up for the challenge.

“We’re just gonna plow ahead and move forward and we’re going to deal with isolated cases, the way we’ve done this last year, with the hope that in 30 days, 60 days, whatever, we want to be able to reevaluate when we’re going to masks off our kids,” Joel said. “We want to try to get a return to normalcy as quickly as possible.”

Categories: Education News, Lancaster, Nebraska News, News