Parents, school leaders react to new CDC mask guidelines

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There are a lot of mixed feelings over the CDC’s newest mask guidance.

On Tuesday, July 27, the CDC officially updated its guidance and recommended mask-wearing for everyone in kindergarten through 12-grade schools. The updated CDC guidelines called for indoor masks for teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status, in parts of the US where the coronavirus is surging. Louisiana is one of those parts.

However, the news isn’t sitting too well for everyone.

“I’m not very excited about it. I feel like we have been vaccinated. We’ve done our part, and I don’t think people should be punished for people who haven’t done their part,” said Deserae Saunders, a parent.

The change comes two months after officials said masks were no longer needed inside for the vaccinated. That was before the highly contagious delta variant became the dominant strain across the country and here in Louisiana.

“We need to do whatever we can to have an added layer of defense between individuals who are going to interact face to face at the schoolhouse and for me, that’s wearing a mask. Whether you’re vaccinated or not,” said Angela Reams-Brown, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers.

Brown believes this is the right move, and there are those that agree.

“My wife is a schoolteacher actually, so it’s an issue concerning for me specifically because she has to spend hours with these kids, so I do think it’s a great idea,” said Gustavo Douaihi, a parent.

A few local school districts have already issued guidance on wearing masks.

On Monday, July 26, West Feliciana Parish Superintendent Hollis Milton sent a letter to students, parents, and school staff that the district is recommending that all employees, students, and parents wear masks indoors.

Other school districts, like East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools, are still trying to decide what they will do. Brown says leadership needs to consider all possibilities and decide quickly.

If they don’t, she says she’s prepared to march at the steps of the school board. Dozens of teachers rallied last school year protesting their return to campus during the heart of the pandemic.

“I don’t want to say today is the bottom line, but I do want him to consider both possibilities. One, mandating masks for anyone over the age of 2, vaccinated or non-vaccinated, or consider starting school after the Labor Day holiday hopefully after we’ve gotten this under school and allow kids to do virtual for the whole school district,” said Brown.

Brown says at last count only 66% of their employees are vaccinated. Given that information, she feels this needs to happen until our COVID numbers improve.

“We do understand the mask is not the cure-all, but it is a line of defense between individuals as they communicate with each other,” said Brown.

Click here for the latest updated mask guidance in other school systems across the Capital Region.

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