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Two Calcasieu Parish schools to be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to COVID-19

The Omicron variant causes an overwhelming number of COVID cases in schools
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 9:31 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Wednesday and Thursday, S.J. Welsh and LeBlanc middle schools will be closed because of the high number of staff in quarantine after testing positive, or potentially being exposed.

Unfortunately, the school district says they aren’t able to get all the substitutes needed to keep classes in session.

They estimate a third of teachers at each school are out.

Calcasieu Parish School Board Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus says that they have seen an increased number of cases after the holidays and says almost all of the schools in the parish are notifying parents of a positive case daily.

The biggest change CPSB has seen recently is the change from a 10-day quarantine to a five-day quarantine.

Bruchhaus says although there has been an increased number of teachers and staff out with COVID because of the new omicron variant, the new quarantine rule allows for those teachers to safely return to the classroom sooner.

“We probably have more people quarantined now than we’ve ever had in the last two weeks since the evolution of COVID in early 2020,” Bruchhaus said.

Bruchhaus says they’ve been on the brink of not having enough staff.

“We’ve been hanging on, but unfortunately, today we had to make the decision with a third of the teachers out at both of the campuses that we made this decision about,” Bruchhaus said.

The school district says they aren’t able to get all the substitutes needed.

“I think everybody is aware that the current version of COVID is very transmissible, and we’re certainly seeing that since we’ve returned from the holidays,” Bruchhaus said.

When there is a positive case detected on campus, parents are notified with specific instructions on what to do. Parents will receive a call or text telling them if they need to get their child tested or not, or if they need to be quarantined.

“I think we have that many cases going out that probably almost all of our schools are sending out a call every day,” Bruchhaus said.

Bruchhaus says their efforts are in play to keep the school district from closing as a whole.

“That includes maybe having to close a class here or there, close a school on the short term basis here or there for a couple of days,” Bruchhaus said. “But the goal is to get back as quickly as we can. And with the five-day quarantine, it makes that more likely.”

He says their employees have really stepped up in this difficult time.

“The ones who are on campus are really just going out their way to do whatever they can to keep the school open,” Bruchhaus said.

As for the two that are closed, they will be having virtual classes.

Brucchaus says the majority of students and staff who have contracted COVID in the last few weeks were not severely ill and were able to return to the classroom after the five-day quarantine.

Bruchhaus says they are following CDC guidelines, but their governing body on COVID rules and regulations is the Louisiana Department of Health.

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