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'Please give our teachers a chance', Parents push back on masks in classrooms

With the statewide mandate, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools – like every other district in Louisiana will require kids older than five years old to wear masks.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — In just a few days, kids across Louisiana will head back to school, but there’s been some confusion and pushback over mask requirements in the classroom. 

Thursday night, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools Superintendent Frank Jabbia was visibly frustrated as he delivered an address at the school board meeting.

“At this point in time, this is a mandate from the Governor that we’ve got to follow. We have no choice but to follow. So, I’m begging parents, I’m pleading with parents, please give our teachers a chance,” he said.

Dozens showed up in protest of masks in the classroom, filling a socially distant board room, overflow room, and then collecting outside. Some chanted, “no masks!” outside the doors of the building.

Inside, some speakers expressed concern. Some shared wildly false claims or threatened to sue the district.

Christian Suprean, who said his son will be a senior this year, claimed that kids could not learn with masks cutting off oxygen to their brain. He offered no evidence to support this claim.

“We’re just going to keep letting out kids have their oxygen cut off and killing our kids,” said Suprean.

Lindsay Pitre, a mother of six, said she believes masks should be a choice for parents.

“If you are a parent afraid of your kid getting COVID, and you think masks really work, then you should be able to have your child wear a mask. But if you’re a parent who isn’t afraid, that should be your choice to have your kid go to school without one,” she said.

Another woman, who said she was a registered nurse with twenty years of experience, called the situation “communism,” and suggested the district provide N-95 masks for all students.

In accordance with the statewide mandate, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools – like every other district in Louisiana – will require kids older than five years old to wear a mask.

Social media has buzzed with false rumors that masks are optional in schools, but Thursday, Governor Edwards reiterated the requirement in a letter to Louisiana Education Superintendent Cade Brumley.

The letter read in part, “By adopting these measures - and ignoring those that are unwilling to acknowledge the current crisis - we can keep our kids in school this year and keep them safe.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry has also been outspoken against the mandate in classrooms. In an email blast to his staff, he even suggested exemption strategies to the mask mandate.

State Senator Patrick McMath is also challenging the governor’s mandate, asking the AG if it’s overreach.

Meanwhile - more than 4800 kids have tested positive for COVID this week alone. The Delta variant has put a strain on children’s hospitals. 

And studies show masks are the best defense for kids under 12-years-old, who can’t be vaccinated.

It may turn into a political fight for the governor, and it’s already sparking clashes with parents, days before school starts.

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