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METAIRIE – Schools in Jefferson Parish have only been open for two days, but multiple employees have already tested positive for COVID-19.

Jefferson Parish Schools Director of Communications Vicki Bristol confirmed today that a “handful” of teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

“Since the return to school on August 3, there have been a handful of cases brought to our attention out of approximately 7,000 employees,” Bristol said in an emailed statement.

Bristol did not provide an exact number of teachers and staff members that have tested positive so far. It also remains unclear if the employees who have tested positive so far are thought to have contracted the virus at schools or elsewhere in the community.

School system leaders expect COVID-19 to be a part of school life as schools reopen, Bristol said.

“The safety of our students and employees is our top responsibility,” She said. “Jefferson Parish Schools continues to work closely with local public health officials to implement safety protocols that minimize exposure to COVID-19 in our schools. Following guidance from the LDOE, we expect there to be cases in our schools throughout the year given the levels of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Safety measures will be put in place at schools, Bristol said, but a big part of the battle against the coronavirus remains isolation.

“We must all do our part by staying home if we show symptoms of COVID-19,” Bristol said. “When an individual tests positive, schools notify any employees and families that have been in close contact with the affected individual and implement the safety protocols, including isolation and quarantine periods, as laid out in Start Strong Jefferson.”

School systems nationwide are dealing with the possibility of teachers, custodial workers, or other employees spreading COVID-19 to students, and vice versa.

“We expect successes and challenges as we return to schools,” she said. It remains critical that we keep our people safe and stay committed to creating the best outcomes for our students.”

As of noon on August 5, Jefferson Parish had a total of 14,914 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 520 deaths, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. That was an increase of 119 cases and two deaths from the LDH’s report on August 4.