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The CDC eases mask guidance for vaccinated teachers and students in schools

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BATON ROUGE - Since the early months of the pandemic, students and teachers across the country have been masked inside classrooms, at events, and through the halls.

The Centers for Disease Control made a change Friday, saying things can relax a bit.
Teachers and students who are fully vaccinated, can now safely do away with the masks while inside school buildings.

The agency says returning to school in the fall is a priority.

"I trust the teachers. I trust the vaccinations and all the protocols that they have with not spreading the germs. So I'm okay with no masks," parent Stephanie Lyles said.

Vaccinated educators and their pupils alike are now able to show off their smiles again. The new guidance comes more than two months after federal health officials allowed the use of Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids as young as 12.

"You don't really have to wear masks if you're vaccinated, and now the CDC has come out and said that. If you are a student or a teacher and you're vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask," said Dr. Susan Bankston, pediatrician with Baton Rouge Clinic.

Bankston says she's on board with the agency's recommendations.

"The CDC is still encouraging in-person school no matter what. Even if you have to make a few guideline changes, they say bring them on into school. If you're vaccinated, no mask is necessary or required unless that's what your school district says."

But right now, some area school districts are waiting on guidance from the Department of Education.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, school leaders say they're still reviewing the possibility for optional masking for those who have the shot. No final decision has been made. The Livingston Parish school district says it takes recommendations from the state. For Ascension Parish schools, current plans are for masking indoors to be optional.

The new guidance stresses the importance of masking and social distancing for those who are not fully vaccinated.

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