COVID-19 cases among LPS teachers lowest since beginning of school year

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - So far this week only two Lincoln Public School teachers have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s the lowest number of positives the district has seen since the first week of school and this has been the trend for the last month.

Eric Weber, who works in the LPS District Office, said the drop in numbers is likely because of what’s happening in the community and within school buildings: vaccinations.

It’s making a big difference.

“You can sense it in the school buildings, in the community,” Weber said.

Since the beginning of March, the weekly average number of staff quarantined is 69 per week; the average number of staff testing positive for COVID-19 is eight. The weekly average for the whole year is more than double that, with an average of 178 staff quarantined per week and 22 staff positive per week.

“When you have fewer staff excluded for quarantine it’s a positive thing because the primary teacher is in the classroom instead of a substitute,” Weber said.

While teachers aren’t required to get vaccinated or report their vaccination status to the district, a survey showed 60 percent of LPS staff wanted to get the shot and they think even more than that got it.

“We’re thinking we’re somewhere in the 70% range,” Weber said.

As for students, case numbers have remained fairly steady, but the number quarantined has dropped. Last week, 704 students were in quarantine and the school-year average is 974.

The next step is getting eligible students vaccinated. LPS Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel said he is working with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to vaccinate high schoolers over 16-years-old.

“The more vaccines we can get in arms, the more likely we are to finish out this school year and start next school year in a more normal way,” Dr. Joel said.

The plans for those vaccinations aren’t finalized, but Dr. Joel said students wouldn’t be required to get the shots.

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