NEW ORLEANS — Grappling with over 4,500 students, teachers and staff quarantined with either COVID cases or exposure to those who have tested positive, public schools in the city of New Orleans will be offering cash incentives for students and staff to receive regular tests.
Dr. Henderson Lewis, the NOLA-PS district superintendent, introduced a "cash incentive" program that will pay students and staff $25 for taking an initial COVID test on site and $10 for each test taken thereafter. Tests will be given weekly for the forseeable future. The payments will be made with virtual e-cards.
"This is a tremendous resource to keep our schools COVID-free," said Tiffany Delcour, the chief operations officer of New Orleans public schools. The program is government funded.
Schools have suffered from large numbers of cases as students below the age of 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated and those in the 12-17 age group tend to have a low rate of vaccination in Louisiana.
Lewis and Delcour, along with the city's medical director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, said that the current belief is that it is important for students to have in-person learning, despite the high number of quarantined students and staff.
Lewis said that virtual learning is a challenge due to staffing issues and problems with equipment. He said that laptops that were issued to students last year didn't all return in top working condition.
"Every single student in our school system had a laptop as well as connectivity, but we do know, in the course of a year, just as with any other school supply... kids are kids. Laptops got broken. So, schools across the country had to make purchases, and some are waiting on backlogs."