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63 Louisiana House members ask state school board to sidestep K-12 schools mask mandate

By: - August 16, 2021 12:50 pm
Republicans ask Gov. Edwards to rescind mask mandate in schools

Students attend class in a Louisiana school. (Getty Images)

Sixty-three House members signed a letter asking the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to direct local K-12 school districts to adopt their own mask protocols — in defiance of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide mask mandate.

All 63 House members who signed the letter are Republicans. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-French Settlement, and House Speaker Pro Tempore Tanner Magee, R-Houma, were among them.

The letter, dated Aug. 16, states that Louisiana’s constitution “provides that BESE shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction.”

“Please use this authority to act on behalf of parents and local school leaders, just as your Board agreed to do earlier in the pandemic,” the letter reads. “BESE can establish a position that gives direction to each school board based on local health risks.”

A smaller group of House members and Senate leaders sent letters to the governor last week, asking him to rescind his mask mandate as it applies to schools.

Edwards was previously in favor of allowing each school district to set its own pandemic protocols, but surging coronavirus hospitalizations coupled with pleading from the state’s healthcare community prompted him to issue the statewide mask mandate on Aug. 2, he said.

 

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BESE Mask Letter

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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