Gov. Edwards ends mask mandate with exception of K-12 schools


BATON ROUGE, La. (WGNO) — After reinstating a statewide mask mandate over the summer, Governor John Bel Edwards is giving the state the green light to ditch the masks, with the exception of K-12 schools, but, there’s a catch.

“School districts and non-public schools can opt out of the mask mandate but only by following CDC guidance as outlined by the Department of Health with respect to quarantine and isolation,” said Governor Edwards.

Governor Edwards explained his decision on schools was based on the fact that most young kids don’t have the option to get vaccinated right now.

“That’s the way that, I believe, we keep our students safe, our teachers safe and all the visitors to the school campuses,” said Governor Edwards.

Now, local governments across the state can decide if they’re ready to ditch the masks.

In New Orleans, officials say for now, masks will stay.

“We’re not necessarily moving in lockstep with the state. Throughout this pandemic and throughout the response, we have, as the mayor’s consistently said, been guided by the data not the date,” said New Orleans Communication Director Beau Tidwell.

But statewide, the data is looking pretty promising. In August, 19% of all emergency room visits in the state were covid related. That number is now down to 1.7%.

Folks we spoke to in Jefferson Parish say they’re pleased with the governor’s latest decision.

“It’s fabulous! I’ve always thought it was kind of ridiculous,” said Richard Haeuser.

“That’s great because it’s up to us. If you have to use, you use it, but you don’t have it, you don’t have to,” said Carman Smith.

Regardless of the relaxed guidelines, Governor Edwards warned Louisianans of the holidays, asking folks to take precautions when meeting with family so we can continue seeing progress into the new year.

New Orleans Public Schools released a statement saying they plan to keep masks in schools for the time being. We do know that at least several Archdiocese schools have already decided to remove the mask guideline, but will still follow other safety protocols.

The governor’s new guidelines go into effect tomorrow.

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