NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — On Monday, August 2, Governor John Bel Edwards reinstated the statewide mask mandate for Louisiana. This decision comes as the fourth surge of COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the state.
Now, local leaders are quickly responding with indoor mask advisories and calls to vaccinate to help slow the spread.
In a decision applauded by State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley, Governor John Bel Edwards lifted the mask mandate for schools in May but added that future masking requirements – if any – could be made at the local school system level.
Now, NOLA-PS and Jefferson Parish schools are both requiring masks for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
NOLA-PS’s mask requirement calls for all students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside Orleans Parish schools regardless of personal vaccination status. The Louisiana Department of Education, in full compliance with a federal mandate, is requiring face covering on all school buses for employees and students in grades 3-12. The Plaquemines Parish School Board is following NOLA-PS’s lead and following suit – at least through the first nine weeks of school.
PPSB requires masks be worn indoors for all employees and students – Head Start through 12th grade. This includes vaccinated individuals. On Sunday, St. Charles Parish Public Schools updated its policy to now require masks for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals alike when minimum social distance cannot be maintained indoors.
As of Saturday, School districts in Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard and St. Tammany are electing to follow current state guidelines by not requiring masks for vaccinated students and teachers, but recommending face coverings for those unvaccinated. As one St. Tammany Parish School Board official said, it is a “parent’s choice” on whether or not their child dons a mask within their school facilities.
School boards in St. James and St. John also set their mask policies this past week. On Tuesday, St. James elected to require masks for all students, staff, vendors and visitors while indoors. Masks will only be required outdoors if social distancing is not followed. On Thursday, St. John the Baptist issued a mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.
Tangipahoa, Terrebonne and Washington have yet to make a formal decision.
Crescent City Schools, such as Harriet Tubman Charter School, Akili Academy of New Orleans, and Paul Habans Charter School, require masks for all students and staff. Vaccinations are also required for staff as well.
In Southeast Mississippi, school districts in both Hancock County and Pearl River Country are also leaving it for parents to decide on face coverings for their children while at school. Other than buses as federally required, masks will not be mandatory for vaccinated individuals, but still recommended for the unvaccinated.
For a complete list of current school board mask policies in and around Orleans Parish, please see the chart below: