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St. Helena schools finish first week back amid COVID-19 surge

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GREENSBURG - While many students across the state are preparing for their first day back, students and staff at St. Helena schools are already wrapping up their first week. 

"We're excited to have our kids back. Our teachers spent two weeks in professional development leading up to this week," said Dr. Sonia Gutierrez, assistant superintendent for the St. Helena Parish School District. 

After a record-breaking week of rising COVID cases and new variants emerging, teachers are more cautious than ever to ensure the safety of everyone on campus. Even before Governor John Bel Edwards announced a statewide mask mandate Monday, the school district made the decision to require masks for everyone on campus. 

"Outdoors you can take your mask off but as soon as you enter the building, you got to mask up," Dr. Gutierrez said. 

Every school in the district also has a health center equipped with free testing and vaccines for students and family. The health centers are in partnership with Southeast Community Health. 

"We had a big back-to-school registration event on July 21, and we had 63 students and 10 adults vaccinated," Dr. Gutierrez said. 

Although things are not completely back to normal yet, everyone seems optimistic about the outcome for the school year. 

"You know the kids are excited to be back, we just want to be sure that we can be safe so that we can stay back," Dr. Gutierrez said. 

District leaders say they have not seen any concerning virus trends so far this year. 


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