Louisiana Key Academy

Teachers at the Louisiana Key Academy in Baton Rouge use large pens to help dyslexic children develop their motor skills during a lesson in 2014.

A charter school in Baton Rouge closed its doors Tuesday after testing all 400-plus students for coronavirus and discovering several previously unknown cases of the virulent disease.

Louisiana Key Academy, a school which focuses on teaching children with dyslexia, plans to reopen Wednesday.

The academy pushed back the first day of school to Monday to give them time to organize the campus-wide COVID testing conducted earlier this week.

Principal Heather Bourgeois said she decided to close Tuesday to give her team time to figure out who to quarantine by looking at seating charts to see which students came into close contact with those who tested positive.

If the results were available earlier in the day on Monday, she thinks she could have chased down close contacts that same day and kept school open.

The cases discovered Monday — she didn’t say how many — were from students who hadn’t previously reported testing positive or showing symptoms. Students known to have the coronavirus were already placed in quarantine.

Bourgeois said Monday's results vindicate the school’s decision to delay the first day of class rather than waiting until several days into the school year to start testing, which would have allowed enough time for a more serious outbreak to develop, she said.

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“Imagine if we had started school last week and we found this?” Bourgeois asked. “It would have been a cause for much greater concern.”

Bo Sheridan, a mother with two children at the school, said it was a hassle carting her kids around with her Tuesday. But she said she understands the school’s dilemma and appreciates it trying to keep everyone safe.

She also said it’s eye-opening that on just its first day Louisiana Key Academy found multiple cases.

By contrast, she said she’s heard very little from the public school in Central that her older kids attend. She said it makes her wonder how many cases are falling under the radar.

“Hell,” Sheridan said, “they would probably have to shut down half the schools in the state if they did the same thing.”


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.