Local Schools: Who is opting out of the mask mandate?

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 9:55 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT
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CENTRAL LOUISIANA (KALB) - On Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that K-12 schools now have the option to opt out of mask mandates, as long as they follow CDC quarantine guidelines.

News Channel 5 is reaching out to local schools here in Central Louisiana to see what each parish plans to do moving forward. Below is a list of who has made an official announcement so far. We will continue to update this list as we learn more from other parishes.

Avoyelles Parish:

Effective October 28, 2021, wearing masks in the Avoyelles Public Schools will be optional. Masks will still be required on buses because the parish is under a federal mask mandate for transportation, until January 2022. Masks will be available on the buses and in schools.

The Avoyelles Parish School Board said it will continue to watch COVID cases carefully and continue quarantine procedures. If COVID numbers increase, they will review the position on masks.

Grant Parish:

Superintendent Paxton Teddlie said the Grant Parish School Board will meet next Tuesday (Nov. 2) to make a decision. They’ve been considering adopting the Parent Choice option in the parish, but doing that would not allow them to opt out of the mask mandate.

Rapides Parish:

The Rapides Parish School Board plans to address the possible change in their mask mandate policy at next Tuesday’s school board meeting. As of right now, the Rapides Parish School System will continue to operate under the “Parent’s Choice” option approved last week, while wearing masks, until the school board meets next week.

BACKGROUND: On Oct. 19, the Rapides Parish School Board passed a motion to approve implementing the “Parent Choice” quarantine option. The option, brought up by State Superintendent Cade Brumley, no longer requires mandatory quarantines for students defined as “close contact”. Instead, parents will be notified of exposure and make the decision on whether to quarantine children or let them remain at school.

The “Parent Choice” quarantine option is at odds with CDC quarantine guidelines, which are required to opt out of the mask mandate.

Natchitoches Parish:

Students, staff and visitors are NOT required to wear masks, but are recommended and encouraged for unvaccinated individuals.

Per federal mandate, Kindergarten through 12th grade students and employees are still required to wear masks on school buses. If a parent chooses to have their student continue to wear a facial covering while on school grounds, NPSB officials and employees encourage them to do so and will support them in this decision.

NSU: Northwestern State University’s indoor mask mandate will remain in place until Natchitoches transmission is below high or substantial, according to NSU Interim President Dr. Marcus Jones.

Vernon Parish:

Opting out of the mask mandate, but anyone wishing to continue to wear a mask is allowed to do so. The Vernon Parish School Board said they will continue to monitor numbers and trends to ensure safety for their students.

The Vernon Parish School Board released this statement on reversing the mask mandate.
The Vernon Parish School Board released this statement on reversing the mask mandate.(VPSB)

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