LAS CRUCES - After several weeks of steady increases, Las Cruces Public Schools experiences a huge spike in cases, surpassing 900 cases since classes began on Aug. 9.
Las Cruces Public Schools 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.
Previously, weekly reports ranged between 40 to 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.
The week of Oct. 22 to Oct. 28, there were 125 reported cases.
The last 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.
In the past two weeks, the schools with the highest percentage of new COVID-19 cases are Mesilla Valley Leadership Academy (5.94 percent), Jornada Elementary (3.24 percent), Hermosa Heights Elementary (2.31 percent) and Desert Hills Elementary (2.02 percent).
As of Friday morning, there were 911 cases reported.
Cumulative district data
Overall, about 4.74 percent of students and staff at LCPS have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year.
Out 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 with 19, Jornada Elementary had 15, Centennial High had 13 and Las Cruces High had 12.
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; Las Cruces High has 41. There are five schools that have more than 30 cases.
The Las Cruces District Administration designation also has 41 reported cases.
LCPS's new COVID-19 dashboard can be found at lcps.net/returnplan/covidnews.html.
COVID-19 Rapid Response by district
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 rapid responses: Anthony Elementary has two, Chaparral Elementary has two, Chaparral Middle has two, Chaparral High has two, Gadsden High has four, Mesquite Elementary has three, Santa Teresa Elementary has two and Santa Teresa Middle has two rapid responses.
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 on Aug. 19 that it will not be requiring schools to close upon 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 found in children.
New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said Wednesday that COVID-19 spread amongst children is less common in schools, and is more likely happening outside of school where masking and socially distancing might not be enforced.
View the NMED's website to keep track of rapid responses at env.nm.gov/rapid-response-data/.
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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: LCPS sees huge spike in COVID-19 cases: 911 cases reported in three months