NEW ORLEANS — Several southeast Louisiana school systems announced that they are opting out of Gov. John Bel Edwards' mask mandate for K-12 schools.
School districts in Lafourche, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, and Washington parishes said that they will no longer require students and staff to mask up. Jefferson Parish's school district said administrators are reviewing the changes and will make a decision later this week.
St. John the Baptist Parish and New Orleans public schools are taking a different approach and will keep their mask mandates in place. New Orleans public schools said it supports Edwards' decision to "recommend" masks in schools, so it will not change guidelines for now.
WWL-TV reached out to other districts in:
St.Tammany: Beginning Thursday, October 28, masks are highly recommended but not required in STPPS schools and buildings. Masks will continue to be required for students and adults on school buses as mandated by federal law. The district will continue with safety protocols, monitor COVID-19 cases, adjust guidelines and protocols as needed, and follow local and national guidance.
We are aware of the Governor’s announcement today (October 26, 2021) lifting the statewide mask mandate with a clause for K-12 schools. We have and will continue to follow CDC Quarantine Guidance. Therefore, effective Wednesday, October 27, 2021, masks are NOT required for students and employees but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals.
Per federal mandate, kindergarten through 12th-grade students and employees are still required to wear masks on school buses.
St. James optional:
All of the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans have followed and will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding quarantines. There are no changes there, nor are there any changes to COVID mitigation measures in place in our schools, such as encouraging personal hygiene, social distancing when possible, and monitoring health of the school community. Therefore, masks are no longer required in Catholic schools outside of Orleans Parish. Parents and families who chose to send their children to school with masks are welcome to do so.
Edwards largely ended Louisiana's nearly three-month-old indoor mask mandate since the state has emerged from its latest coronavirus spike and is seeing lower rates of COVID-19 infection. The new rules, which go in effect Wednesday, lifts mask requirements for grocery stores, restaurants, bars, retailers, colleges and other sites.
But some of Louisiana’s K-12 schools will have to keep masking if they don't follow tight quarantine rules. School districts that maintain tight quarantine regulations for students who come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 won’t be required to have a mask mandate. But those that don’t require all exposed students to be sent home will have to keep students and staff masked up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.