BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley says he applauds Governor John Bel Edwards’s decision to end the statewide mask mandate for schools in Louisiana.

During a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Gov. Edwards lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions and ended a statewide requirement that students must wear a mask in the classroom and at school events. Masks still will be required on public transit, in health care facilities, and in prisons.

After the end of the 2021 Spring Semester, school systems will determine policies on wearing masks. According to officials, Dr. Brumley met with the Governor a week before to request the mask mandate be lifted for K-12 students.

School systems can begin implementing their own policies following the end of the 2020-2021 school year. New school system face mask policies will take effect starting with summer programs.

“After a statewide effort that served its purpose, I applaud Governor Edwards for now returning this decision to our local communities,” Dr. Brumley said in a released statement Tuesday.

“They know their children best. Just as they have since the pandemic began, I know school system leaders will continue to work with parish medical experts as they navigate what we all hope is the final chapter of this pandemic. I’m confident we will continue to move closer to offering in-person instruction to every child by the start of next school year.”

Officials say during the Summer of 2020, the Louisiana Department of Education released school reopening guidance and BESE-approved minimum health standards. All school systems developed comprehensive plans that operationalized health guidelines and allow for a quick pivot when the presence of the virus changes in their communities.

The LDOE provided technical assistance for school systems statewide as they developed reopening plans based on CDC guidance and Louisiana’s phased reopening guidance. Not only did all Louisiana school systems reopen in the fall, but the LDOE’s School Reopening Dashboard shows that 72 percent of Louisiana students are benefitting from daily, in-person instruction.

In addition to school reopening guidance, the Department released specific resources for areas like early childhood, students with disabilities, and English Learners. Along with developing virtual instruction guides for educators and families, LDOE provided virtual instruction workshops to over 2,600 educators. This is in addition to the support offered by school systems. The LDOE also held weekly office hours calls and system leader roundtables to keep teachers and leaders updated on the latest developments nationwide and in Louisiana.

LDOE says Dr. Brumley advocated for K-12 educators and support staff as well as early childcare workers to receive priority access to the vaccine. As priority access was granted, the Department worked with the Louisiana Department of Health to share vaccine guidance with school systems. The Department also partnered with state and federal officials to equip school systems with PPE including 1.2 million face coverings and 83,316 rapid testing kits.