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BESE pushes masking, distancing decisions to local level

Safely Back to School
Posted at 10:24 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 11:24:53-04

The state board that makes policy for local school systems has passed on issuing any rules on masking and social distancing in Louisiana schools.

BESE President Sandy Holloway issued the following statement today regarding the updated guidance from the state Department of Education:

“The information recently published by the Louisiana Department of Education is provided as a resource for local districts and schools to use in establishing best practices for COVID-19 mitigation in the coming school year. These guidelines, based on the recommendations of the Louisiana Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, are not state-issued requirements, but recommendations for local K-12 leadership to consider in adopting their own opening plans for 2021-2022.

"BESE has issued no mandates and approved no policies related to masking or distancing in schools for the coming year. Decisions regarding masking and other prevention measures are best made by those closest to our students, and Louisiana’s local school systems have the authority to develop COVID-19 policies appropriate for their communities.”

On July 8, 2021, the Louisiana Department of Education updated its “Ready to Achieve!” COVID-19-related operational guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year. Officials say that guidance is based on current medical knowledge of how COVID-19 is transmitted, and provides recommendations on protective measures for schools and school districts to take in limiting potential exposure in school settings. The LDE’s guidance may be viewed online here [louisianabelieves.com].

The guidance includes suggested policies and procedures for protecting staff and students from COVID.

Protective measures in school settings include:
• Social distancing, achieved by establishing and, for the maximum number of days possible, maintaining small groups of individuals that minimally interact with other groups or individuals, including in shared indoor spaces;
• Correct use of masks;
• Handwashing and respiratory etiquette;
• Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities; and
• Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine.