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CDC recommends masks be worn in schools, more universities requiring vaccines

Holy Cross joins Loyola University, Dillard University, Xavier University and Tulane University locally in requiring the vaccine on campus.

NEW ORLEANS — At University of Holy Cross in Algiers, COVID vaccines have been encouraged on campus since the Spring, this Fall they’ll be required.

“In order to have a safe campus we need a vaccinated community of students, faculty and staff,” said university president Stanton McNeely.

That also comes with proof of vaccination and a mask mandate. McNeely says while medical and religious exemptions will be allowed, the campus is joining with a handful of other New Orleans area universities requiring vaccines. Those other universities include, Dillard University, Tulane University, Loyola University and Xavier University.

“As colleges and universities, we’re taking a stand that we’re supporting the safety of the vaccine and the importance of the health and safety of all citizens,” McNeely said.

That requirement comes as schools of all levels figure out how to safely transition back to campus. Not helping is a fourth surge in new COVID cases in Louisiana, attributed to the Delta Variant and unvaccinated people.

“We do not know how long this surge is going to last,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Dr. Kanter says part of the state’s back to school plan is making sure COVID testing is available for every K-12 school in Louisiana. Individual school districts must figure out how to best welcome students back to the classroom.

“Schools must do the right thing and work hard now to create a safe environment for their students, which by the way will also limit the amount of absenteeism,” Kanter said.

Tuesday, the CDC issued a recommendation that masks be worn inside schools by everyone, regardless of vaccination status. NOLA Public Schools already requires them, and vaccines could be next.   

“At some point we may need to think about not just incentivizing vaccines, but requiring them or requiring testing for staff that aren’t going to take vaccines,” said district five schoolboard member Katie Baudouin.

At University of Holy Cross, McNeely says it all comes down to one thing: Safety. 

“It’s critically important that we communicate this and be socially responsible,” McNeely said.

To make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine, call 1-855-453-0774  or visit the Louisiana Department of Health's website here.