The Concordia Parish School Board will determine during a special meeting on Aug. 4 whether to require masks during the upcoming school year or to simply recommend their use.

The board voted down a motion for a mask mandate at the special meeting last week after reviewing local survey results, which revealed respondents overwhelmingly favored that masks be recommended but not required.

According to a survey conducted by Superintendent Toyua Watson, 507 respondents favored recommending masks but not requiring them, while 215 said masks should be required.

The results were revealed during a special board meeting July 22.

Those favoring that masks be recommended but not required included the CPSB staff, Concordia Parish Academy, Monterey High, Vidalia Elementary, Vidalia Upper, Vidalia Junior High and Vidalia.

Those supporting a mask requirement included all four Ferriday Schools – Ferriday Lower, Ferriday Upper, Ferriday Junior High and Ferriday High.

Responses at some schools were exceptionally low, according to the survey.

A motion by Derrick Carson, seconded by Raymond Riley, to require masks failed on a 3-2 vote.

Voting against the measure were Dorothy Parker, board President Fred Butcher and board Vice-President John Bostic.

Board members Warren Enterkin, Angela Hayes, Lisette Forman and Ricky Raven were absent from the special meeting.

Butcher said that the issue should be revisited early next month before school starts. The board will also consider Covid-19 numbers by the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals.

He said the local survey results should be considered, noting that the board requested this survey in order to determine how to move forward.

However, the Delta Variant strain of the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the country among the unvaccinated. Health officials say Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates nationally and hospitalizations are rising.

A breakdown of the survey results is as follows with the number of respondents at each location in parenthesis:

Masks Recommended

CPSB staff, 60.1% support, (286 responses).

Concordia Parish Academy, 59.6% support, (89 responses).

Monterey High, 98.7% support, (159 responses)

Vidalia Lower, 83.3% support, (72 responses).

Vidalia Upper, 83.9% support, (31 responses).

Vidalia Junior High, 84.8% support, (46 responses).

Vidalia High, 100% support, (2 responses).

Masks Required

Ferriday Lower, 91.3% support, (23 responses).

Ferriday Upper, 100% support, (8 responses)

Ferriday Junior High, 100% support, (3 responses).

Ferriday High, 100% support, (6 responses).

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