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School system watching COVID surge closely, but not taking drastic measures

Staff Report

The spike in positive cases of the novel coronavirus has triggered concern among officials in the Iberville Parish School District, but a different approach will take place as opposed to the response from the first outbreak last March.

Officials from the school system have been in discussion with the Iberville Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness on the surge in cases statewide.

Iberville Parish School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion

Superintendent Arthur Joffrion said the school system continues to operate with transparency on the numbers for the residential areas of the parish and the school system.

“That includes sharing the numbers with the school leaders so they can see a clear pictures,” he said.

Unlike closures of an entire school system, the School Board Central Office will make decisions based on individual situations rather than the district as a whole, Joffrion said.

The situation could change, however.

“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “If a decision needs to be made districtwide, we will make that decision, and do all we can to make sure health and safety of employees.”

State officials have linked the most recent spike to Halloween festivities. Concerns have already risen about a potential surge in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Until that time comes, however, the board will focus on the current situation, Joffrion said.

In that regard, the number of positive cases remains minimal in the Iberville school system.

“In the last week, we had only five positive cases in the entire school system, but because of contact tracing, we’re obligated to quarantine people in close contact,” he said. “Thus far, no close contact has resulted in a positive case.

“That’s a positive for us, but we’re following the CDC guidelines, even when some others are not,” Joffrion said.

Those guidelines came into play in the aftermath of East Iberville High School’s football game against Ascension Catholic.

“They notified us, and we quarantined all the players,” Joffrion said. “Meanwhile, Ascension Catholic quarantined five kids and played football this past weekend.

“My decision, while not popular, was what I believe was the right decision because health and safety are too important for us not to function in that way,” he said. “Unfortunately, again, we do not live in a bubble.”