Edwards clarifies mask mandate for K-12 schools

Response to AG Landry letter on mask work-arounds
Posted at 1:22 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 14:22:07-04

Governor John Bel Edwards is responding to questions raised by parents about exceptions to the latest mask mandate and to a letter sent by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry this week suggesting strategies for getting students out of the mandate.

The mandate, which went into effect on Wednesday, includes all children age 5 and up and all adults. It also includes all K-12 school campuses. Landry's recommendations were sent to people at the Louisiana Department of Justice about two hours before the mandate was reinstated, our media partners at The Advocate report.

Landry allegedly told his employees they could use state laws to either claim a religious or philosophical objection to the mask mandate for students and a vaccine requirement if one is required.

Edwards response, sent to Louisiana Education Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley, "is in direct response to questions raised about exceptions to the mandate and in particular, the letter by the Louisiana attorney general 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," the governor said.

The mandate is in effect until September 1, 2021, unless it's necessary to extend it. Gov. Edwards clarified that the only exceptions to the order are:

  • Any individual who will not come in contact with any other individual (outside of their immediate household members) or who will be able to maintain strict social distancing of six feet apart from any other individual (outside of their immediate household members)
  • Any child under the age of five not enrolled in a kindergarten program, however all children between the ages of two and five years old are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in accordance with Subsection (A) of this Section
  • Any individual with a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
  • Any individual who is consuming food or drinks
  • Any individual seeking to communicate with someone who has or is suspected of having a communication disorder
  • Any individual giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
  • Any individual temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
  • Any athlete participating in organized athletic activities

The exceptions are essentially the same as those in place for the entirety of the 2020-21 school year, Edwards said.

"I very much appreciate your efforts, and the heroic work of educators in this challenging time," the letter states. "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."

The full letter from Gov. Edwards is below:

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