UPDATE: All Acadiana parishes lift mask mandate in public schools

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted the state’s COVID-19 mask mandate except for schools in grades K-12.

The governor’s updated order allows school districts to opt-out of the mask mandate as long as they continue to follow the existing quarantine guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better separate exposed students and faculty members from others and avoid outbreaks on campus.

Below is a list of what each parish has decided for its own school mask mandates:

LAFAYETTE PARISH

Lafayette Parish Schools announced on Tuesday that masks in schools will now be optional. LPSS will continue to require masks on LPSS buses when students are being transported to and from school, and school-related activities. Students will not be allowed on a bus without a mask, as per federal regulations.

“In the event of a positive case, LPSS will continue to quarantine those in close contact with a positive case,” stated the district on its website. “Students and staff members who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine if exposed to a positive COVID case. Read more here.

DIOCESE OF LAFAYETTE

Bishop Douglas Deshotel is opting to allow the parents of children in all Catholic schools throughout the Diocese to determine if their children wear masks or not at school. In addition, wearing of masks while on school premises will be optional for all personnel. 

All Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lafayette will continue to follow CDC guidelines concerning quarantine periods after exposure to Covid-19.

ACADIA PARISH

Acadia Parish schools have made masks optional.

EVANGELINE PARISH

The Evangeline Parish School District will make face coverings/masks optional, and follow CDC/LDH quarantine guidelines. This goes into effect starting Thursday, Oct. 28. NO student or personnel will be penalized for wearing or not wearing a mask/face covering.

The EPSD will adhere to the following protocols beginning Oct. 28, 2021:

  • The use of cloth face-coverings by students and employees is highly recommended, especially for those that are considered at-risk, but the decision as to their use is left to the descretion of the parent/legal guardian and employee.
  • Per the current U.S. Presidentail proclamation, cloth face coverings shall continue to be worn on all school buses.
  • LDH guidelines shall govern all quarantine decisions for students and employees (contact tracing, notification of close contacts of positive cases, mandated quarantine timeframes, etc.) and we will try to transition to those quarantine guidelines as outlined in the Governor’s Proclamation.
  • All other COVID-19 protocols will remain in place.

IBERIA PARISH

According to Superintendent Carey Laviolette, The Iberia Parish School Board voted to opt-out of the mask mandate for students and employees in schools and office buildings beginning Thursday, November 4, 2021. Masks may be worn by students at a parent’s discretion.  Masks are still required on school buses.

JEFF DAVIS PARISH

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board voted to opt-out of the Governor’s mask mandate and return to the implementation of CDC quarantine guidance in a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 27. Jeff Davis Parish school personnel and students are not required to wear masks; however, they may choose to do so if they wish.

ST. LANDRY PARISH

Effective Monday, November 1, 2021, face-coverings for staff, students, and visitors will be optional in St.
Landry Public Schools except when traveling on school buses per the Presidential Executive order and
CDC guidelines. SLPSB students will continue to wear face coverings while being transported to and from
school and school-related activities. Please note, students attending SLCC, LSUE, or any other college
institutions shall follow all of their guidelines while on their campus.

ST. MARTIN PARISH

St. Martin Parish announced at the Nov. 3 school board meeting that it is opting out of the mask mandate, joining the remainder of Acadiana parishes.

ST. MARY PARISH

St. Mary Parish schools have opted out of the mask mandate.

VERMILION PARISH

Superintendent Tommy Byler announced Tuesday evening based on the Governor’s proclamation the following mask policies are now in place:

  • Masks must be worn on school buses
  • Masks in the school building are optional and left up to student choice.
  • CDC guidelines for quarantining are in place. More quarantines could occur as the exception for masks wearing will not apply for those students who choose to not wear a mask.
  • Students that are vaccinated do not have to quarantine.
  • Students who have been positive in the last 90 days do not have to quarantine.

EXAMPLE OF LDH QUARANTINE GUIDELINES

Louisiana Department of Health close contact guide

The Lafayette Parish School District explains the approved close contact process in their reopening plan.

  • Individuals who were in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case may be identified and contacted as part of the Louisiana Department of Health contact tracing process.
    • Close contact is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period OR having direct contact with an infected person, including touching, hugging, kissing, or sharing eating or drinking utensils; or if an infected person sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on another person.
  • Indoor Classroom Exception:
    • If BOTH the case and the contact were engaged in the consistent and correct use of a well-fitting face mask AND were within three to six feet of each other, then those close contacts do not need to quarantine.
    • This exception only applies to students and should not be used for teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
  • Close contacts are encouraged to seek testing immediately, regardless of vaccination status. If negative, they should be tested again between 5-7 days post-exposure.
  • Close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual must stay home for 10-14 days following exposure. If no symptoms develop during quarantine and no testing is done, the individual may quarantine for 10-14 days from the last contact with a COVID-19 case. If quarantine is shortened, daily symptom monitoring and strict adherence to prevention measures including physical distancing, hand washing, and wearing face masks are to continue until 14 days from the last contact with a COVID-19 case.

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