Gov. John Bel Edwards has sent a letter to Louisiana Education Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley to clarify any confusion parents may have about the reinstated temporary mask mandate for K-12 students. The letter is in direct response to questions raised about exceptions to the mandate and in particular, the letter by the Louisiana attorney general (SEE BELOW) that ignores the dangerous fourth surge of COVID-19 that Louisiana is currently facing with increasingly alarming case counts, hospitalizations and deaths and seeks to undermine public confidence in one of the most effective tools to combat it. At this time, children under age 12 are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but wearing a mask has proven to be one of the most effective tools we have for slowing the transmission of this virus.
In his letter, Gov. Edwards states:
“…As you know, unlike many other states, Louisiana had a relatively safe and successful in-person year last year in large part because of masking by students. The need for this school year to start with our students wearing face coverings has only been made clearer since I announced this order on Monday. We are in, as Dr. Catherine O’Neal at Our Lady of the Lake stated in the Monday press conference, “the darkest days of the pandemic.” Our hospitals throughout the State are at capacity and are having to turn away COVID and nonCOVID patients alike. We simply must reverse the trajectory we are on – and right now. We can and will see our way through this darkness, but it will only be through more vaccinations and masking in public places in this critical time.
“I very much appreciate your efforts, and the heroic work of educators in this challenging time. By adopting these measures – and ignoring those that are unwilling to acknowledge the current crisis – we can keep our kids in school this year and keep them safe. Please feel free to forward this letter on to any school districts that may be addressing this issue.”
The temporary mask mandate went into effect August 4 and will remain in place until September 1, 2021, unless it becomes necessary to extend it.
STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
Face masks that properly cover the wearer’s mouth and nose should be worn indoors at all times, unless a person is in a home, under the Governor’s statewide mask mandate.
The order requires face coverings for everyone age 5 or older or enrolled in kindergarten, except for the following:
- Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
- Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
- Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
Face coverings are highly encouraged for those ages 2 to 4 as tolerated.
As with the Governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempted. However, the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly encourage indoor mask wearing in public for all children aged two and older, especially as they are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.
On August 3, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry posted the following on the Office of Attorney General Facebook page:
“Since news broke that I provided my Department of Justice employees information so they could express their religious and philosophical concerns regarding masks and vaccines, my office has been inundated with questions and requests.
While state law prohibits us from providing legal advice to individuals and businesses, as a matter of public record, we are releasing the framework documents given to our employees.
You may also wish to review La. Rev. Stat. §17:170 (E); The Louisiana State Constitution, La. Const. art. I, § 8; and the Louisiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act., La. Rev. Stat. §13:5231, et seq.
Please consult a private attorney to determine what legal avenues may be available to you or what specific actions you may take.”
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