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Parish schools lift mask requirement

Face coverings must still be worn on buses
Thursday, October 28, 2021
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Starting today, whether or not students wear a mask in Lincoln Parish public school classrooms is up to parents.

Following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Tuesday announcement that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted, the Lincoln Parish School District released updates to its COVID-19 mitigation rules Wednesday afternoon.

Wearing masks at school is now a parent choice, though they are still required on school buses. Visitors to campus will also be required to wear them.

The updated policy says the school board still “highly recommends” masks for students and employees.

“These changes will be monitored until Nov. 19, which begins our Thanksgiving Break,” the policy reads. “Lincoln Parish School Board may adjust these guidelines based on student and employee positivity results and exposures.”

Edwards said his removal of the mask mandate that had been in place since Aug. 4 would only apply to K-12 systems if they stick to the 10-day quarantine rules for exposure to the respiratory virus.

The state Department of Education recently began allowing schools to change to a “parent choice” option for quarantining that would allow students to remain in the classroom even when deemed a close contact to a positive COVID case if his or her parents approved.

Many school districts, including Lincoln Parish, decided not to move to that model. Edwards said Tuesday schools could relax the mask or quarantine requirements, but not both.

Lincoln Parish chose to maintain the quarantine rules, noting that a parent’s choice to not mask a child could increase the likelihood that child would have to quarantine if exposed.

A student isn’t counted as a close contact if he or she, as well as the positive case, were consistently wearing masks.

“Lincoln Parish Schools have seen the benefits of following COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana Department of Health, and Governor John Bel Edwards,” the policy update reads.

“By following the guidelines, our COVID-19 positivity rates and exposures in schools have been minimal. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation since August.”