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Baton Rouge Diocese changes back-to-school policy amid pushback from community

10 months 4 days 9 hours ago Thursday, July 15 2021 Jul 15, 2021 July 15, 2021 8:33 PM July 15, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has changed course on mask requirements for students after sweeping backlash from parents. 

Bishop Michael Duca released a statement Thursday, saying masks will be optional for students returning to school for the fall 2021 semester. There will no longer be a requirement to prove a child's vaccination status and temperature checks will not be implemented. 

"My office has received and heard the concerns of parents - the first teachers of their children - and other concerned members of the community regarding the difficulties of creating a safe environment for children amid changing variables. As your bishop, I promise to re-evaluate these and any other guidelines as necessary for the duration of the health crisis," said Bishop Duca. 

The decision comes just two days after the Catholic Schools Office released its Back to School Policy, which mandated masks for unvaccinated children in third grade or above, and proof of vaccination status for students.

Many parents felt blindsided, since many of their children have participated in camps and sporting events without masks for much of the summer. Some even threatened to pull donations and volunteer hours. 

"It's a shame it's come to this, but hit 'em where it hurts. Pull your tithing. Pull your donations. Don't volunteer until our voices are heard," parent Chip Robert said.

The letter released today reversed that decision, claiming the State Superintendent of Education clarified the department's return-to-school guidelines were recommendations, not requirements.

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