Las Cruces schools see huge spike in COVID-19 cases - Albuquerque Journal

Las Cruces schools see huge spike in COVID-19 cases

Kindergarten students at Booker T. Washington Community Elementary School line up on their way to lunch Sept. 8, 2021. They put their arms out straight ahead to help keep social distance between the person in front of them. (Miranda Cyr/Las Cruces Sun-News)

After several weeks of steady increases, Las Cruces Public Schools has experienced a huge spike in cases, surpassing 900 cases since classes began on Aug. 9.

The school district reported 194 new COVID-19 cases the week of Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. This is almost four times what had been consistently reported weekly in August, September and early October.

Previous weekly reports ranged between 40 and 70 new positive cases. This past week, there were 41 new cases on Monday and 43 news cases on Wednesday, both in a single day.

During the week of Oct. 22 to Oct. 28, there were 125 reported cases.

The past two weeks make up more than one-third of the overall cases in the past three months.

LCPS’s COVID-19 system tracks cases by school and records the percentage of positive cases relative to the number of students and staff in the buildings.

As of Friday morning, 911 cases had been reported.

Overall, about 4.74% of students and staff at LCPS have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year.

Of the 911 positive cases in the district, 735 are students and 176 are staff members or contractors, according to the new dashboard.

Organ Mountain High had the highest number of new cases this week, at 19. Organ Mountain High now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any district location, with 69 reported positive cases, 64 of which are reported as student cases.

Mayfield High, which consistently had the most cases since August, has 50. Three other schools have more than 40 cases: Highland Elementary has 46; Camino Real Middle has 42; and Las Cruces High has 41. There are five schools with more than 30 cases.

The Las Cruces District Administration designation also has 41 reported cases.

According to the New Mexico Environmental Department’s Rapid Response tracker, there are no current rapid responses at Hatch Valley Public Schools.

Gadsden Independent School District has 17.

In total, LCPS has 96.

Explore Academy charter school also has two rapid responses.

A rapid response means one or more people tested positive for COVID-19 and was infectious while on campus. All cases reported to a school on a single day, along with all cases with test dates through the following day, are grouped into a single rapid response.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Aug. 19 that it will not require schools to close on reaching four rapid responses in 14 days, which was the previous guidance.

Instead, the department will work with schools to implement enhanced COVID-safe practices that will maintain in-person learning as much as possible. It is up to a district whether or not a school is moved to remote learning, unless the Department of Health steps in.

Twenty-six schools across the state have four or more rapid responses. There has been an increase statewide of COVID-19 cases in schools.

According to the state, about a quarter of the newly reported COVID-19 cases in the past week were in children.

Acting New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said Wednesday that COVID-19 spread among children is less common in schools, and is more likely happening outside of school, where masks and social distancing might not be enforced.

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