Ferriday High School had a total of 81 students and teachers out the end of this week because of COVID-19.

Concordia Parish Superintendent Toyua Watson said there were six positive cases reported among teachers and students, forcing a large number to be quarantined.

“A lot of this had to do with the Thanksgiving break,” Watson said. “A number of siblings and others visiting have had to quarantine. Plus students do not have to wear masks now, which is making it really difficult.”

Concordia Parish School Board members decided to make mask-wearing a choice of the students during their November meeting.

On Oct. 26, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he would lift Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings except for K-12 schools, however, school districts are able to decide whether or not their students would be required to wear masks, Superintendent Toyua Watson said to the board Tuesday.

Unmasked students who are exposed must quarantine five to seven days and must procure a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school. 

The board passed another motion that masks would be “highly recommended but not required” with the stipulations that the school board would revisit the matter after observing the changes in COVID-19 cases in the school district and receive weekly updates.

“Those who get tested negative can shorten their quarantine to five days, and if you are vaccinated you don’t have to quarantine, which I would still advise being safe,” Watson said. “Hopefully we will have a number of students and teachers returning Monday.”

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