Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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EBR schools shaping their COVID plans, other parishes following suit

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BATON ROUGE- Students and staff in public schools statewide will be wearing masks this fall regardless of vaccination status.

The decision comes as the delta variant spreads rapidly among the unvaccinated. Particularly children, who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.

"We are working hard to bring back some sense of normalcy," said Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse.

On Tuesday, East Baton Rouge Parish Schools teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Health and Our Lady of the Lake hospital to announce the return of COVID-19 safety measures at schools.

"Masking during a time of surge is one of the most important things we can do," said Dr. Catherine O'Neal with Our Lady of the Lake.

This school year, officials say every teacher and student in EBRPSS will be required to wear a mask.

Routine COVID-19 testing will be available to staff and to students who have parental consent. 

Virtual classes will be offered for parents who are concerned about their children attending in person.

School officials say vaccinations are encouraged, but not mandatory. 

The district is particularly concerned about elementary school students who are not old enough to get the shot.

"A lot of school-aged children can't get vaccinated. Studies are underway. We do not know when Emergency Use Approval will come, but what we do know is that masks work," said Dr. Dawn Marcelle with the Louisiana Department of Health.

The school district will regularly review and update their COVID-19 guidelines, they said.

"We're trying to take as many steps as possible to make sure people feel safe," Narcisse said.

In St. Helena, the school year has already started with Tuesday making day two.

"It's not different than last school year, our students know they need to come in with their masks I they don't have one we will provide them, so we are prepared we also have air purifiers that we purchase to put in the classrooms," said Superintendent Kelli Joseph. 
St. Helena schools returned with in-person classes, and are hopeful they won't have to go back virtual. 
"I can't predict the future, but I can tell you we hope we don't have to go that route because we know face to face is the best option for our students," said Joseph.  
The superintendent reiterated that last year prepared them for this, so they are geared up but remind parents, that they can also help, to stop the spread. 
"I am a parent of a school-aged child and I am just as concerned as any other parent would be. But, I made sure my child got vaccinated and I made sure my child had all the equipment she needs to be fully prepared and safe while on school grounds," said Joseph
Zachary schools will also start Monday and require masks.

For more information visit https://ebrschools.org/safe-reopening-plan/


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