State representative submits proposal to clarify COVID protocols in schools

Proposal submitted to clarify COVID protocols
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 7:01 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After COVID-19 vaccines were added to the school immunization schedule for students 16 and up back in December, there were questions around who would determine if unvaccinated students would be excluded from in-person classes in the event of an outbreak. One lawmaker is looking to clear up that confusion.

“I believe parents should have the right to determine whether or not their child gets a specific vaccine or not,” said State Rep. Barry Ivey (R), of Baton Rouge.

The state has the COVID vaccine as part of its immunization schedule for kids currently for children 16 and older only. Parents can opt-out, but what happens when there’s an outbreak at a school?

Rep. Ivey said schools should not be playing a role in making health decisions for their students, and a paragraph in the department of health’s guidelines suggests some wiggle room for schools to have input.

“I believe that it is an important enough issue that they should be solely under the responsibility of the State Health Officer to prohibit in-person attendance of any unimmunized students for COVID,” continued Ivey.

Ivey’s proposal makes it clear that the authority solely resides with the State Health Officer for at least a year as opposed to individual school administrators.

“The paragraph that I seek to suspend for a year only provides clarification to the process,” explained Ivey.

With this proposal, he hopes to close any loopholes schools could use in the future to implement whatever mitigating measures they believe are appropriate.

To be clear, this proposal would not do away with any vaccine requirements the state health department deems essential. All it would do is clarify the state health officer, currently Dr. Joseph Kanter, is the only one in charge when it comes to outbreak mitigation policies in schools.

“It will just require as current law does, the State Health Officer to issue a public health order or an emergency rule, that’s it,” said Ivey.

WAFB reached out to the Louisiana Department of Health for comment, and they said they don’t typically comment on any pre-filed resolutions. The department also said an outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed positive cases on a campus.

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