NATCHITOCHES PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Natchitoches Parish Schools is temporarily reinstating a mask mandate as students head back to school following the holiday break and as the omicron variant continues to surge.
According to the Natchitoches Parish School Board, starting Monday all faculty and staff will be required to wear a mask when on school property. Students are required to wear a mask when returning to school on Wednesday.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and other health officials gave updated guidance they described as “new, strong recommendations” during a conference on Thursday over what schools should do as the Omicron variant surges through Louisiana. Gov. Edwards recommended that schools:
- Mask up while indoors and outdoors
- Stay 6 feet apart when masking is not possible
- Suspend extracurricular activites
- Get vaccinated and boosted
- Get tested prior to returning to school
School COVID protocols should be in place until infections are below 200 per 100,000 people, Gov. Ewards said. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 196 new cases have been reported since Sunday in Natchitoches Parish.
Students who attend Natchitoches schools are due back Wednesday, Jan. 5.
Masking will remain optional in Bossier schools and they say athletics will not be suspended, although Return to Play guidelines following a positive case or exposure to a close contact have changed. Caddo Parish Public Schools resumed classes Monday, but the district has not yet released any updates to its COVID-19 guidelines.
Students in Webster Parish schools will not be required to wear masks when they return to class after the winter break Tuesday, but the school district says it is implementing shortened quarantine guidelines recommended by the Louisiana Department of Health.