Governor Sends Letter to Education Superintendent Clarifying Mask Mandate for K-12 Schools

A news release from the Governor said it was to clarify any confusion parents may have about the reinstated temporary mask mandate for K-12 students. The letter is in direct response to questions raised about exceptions to the mandate and in particular, a letter by the Louisiana Attorney General. 

In his letter, Gov. Edwards states:

“…As you know, unlike many other states, Louisiana had a relatively safe and successful in-person year last year in large part because of masking by students. The need for this school year to start with our students wearing face coverings has only been made clearer since I announced this order on Monday. We are in, as Dr. Catherine O’Neal at Our Lady of the Lake stated in the Monday press conference, “the darkest days of the pandemic.” Our hospitals throughout the State are at capacity and are having to turn away COVID and non-COVID patients alike. We simply must reverse the trajectory we are on – and right now. We can and will see our way through this darkness, but it will only be through more vaccinations and masking in public places in this critical time.

“I very much appreciate your efforts, and the heroic work of educators in this challenging time. 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. Please feel free to forward this letter on to any school districts that may be addressing this issue.”

The temporary mask mandate went into effect August 4 and will remain in place until September 1, 2021, unless it becomes necessary to extend it.  The order requires face coverings for everyone age 5 or older or enrolled in kindergarten, except for the following:

Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering

Anyone who is consuming a drink or food

Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired

Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience

Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes

Face coverings are highly encouraged for those ages 2 to 4 as tolerated.

As with the Governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempted. However, the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly encourage indoor mask wearing in public for all children aged two and older, especially as they are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.  At this time, children under age 12 are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  The news release stated wearing a mask has proven to be one of the most effective tools we have for slowing the transmission of this virus. 

Editor’s Note:  See separate article on the local school statement on the Governor’s mask update for schools.

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