La BESE revises COVID-19 school standards, clarifies face covering policy

Louisiana

FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, students wear protective masks as they arrive for classes at the Immaculate Conception School while observing COVID-19 prevention protocols in The Bronx borough of New York. Schools and camps across the county are making plans to help kids catch up academically this summer after a year or more of remote learning for many of them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

LOUISIANA (KLFY) — The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved revisions to clarify its COVID-19-related standards for the reopening of K-12 schools in the 2020-2021 school year.

The revisions clarify that BESE’s minimum standards, pertaining to face coverings, are superseded by any statewide or district-specific mandate issued by the governor, and that face covering requirements are to be determined by local school systems when no mask mandate from the governor is in place.

The agenda item was specifically requested by BESE President Sandy Holloway, who said, “A few weeks ago when Governor Edwards lifted his statewide mask mandate but excluded schools, I asked Superintendent Brumley to engage in conversations with the Governor about adjusting the requirement for the K-12 community. While I have great respect for the Governor’s decision, I also have great respect for a parent’s right to choose. My desire has been that we would move closer to putting this decision back in the hands of those closest to students, and no one is closer than a child’s parent.”

The revisions approved by the Board today are available for public viewing online here. The policy clarifications also confirm the expiration of the BESE minimum health and safety standards with the end of the 2020-2021 school year on June 30, 2021.

The Board further directed the State Superintendent to meet with the Governor to request the lifting of mask requirements for K-12 students in summer school programs, and easing the mask mandate in schools in certain circumstances such as outdoor activities and recess.

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