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Concordia Parish students returned to class Monday following the Christmas break under new guidelines to wear a mask.

The Concordia Parish School Board voted unanimously at a special meeting last month to re-instate a mask mandate at all parish schools for three weeks beginning with the return to school from Christmas break.

School Board President Fred Butcher said the vote was 8-0 for the mandate. New School Board member Nicky Pere of Monterey was not on the zoom call. Pere does not get sworn in until January 13 in replacing former member John Bostic.

Concordia Parish Superintendent Toyua Watson said the School Board will reconvene in three weeks to discuss further options.

“We didn’t have the pushback we had at the start of the school year,” Watson said.

Watson said 155 students were out because of COVID issues out of 3,700 on Monday.

“We believe this allows more children to attend school,” Watson said. “When you know better, you do better.”

According to The New York Times, there have been 72 new cases in Concordia Parish over the last week. There have been 3,474 total case and 80 deaths.

Concordia Parish is still considered a high risk by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) community risk categorization.

High risk is classified as widespread, uncontrolled transmission with many undetected cases by LDH.

Community risk categorization is based on a community indicator classification system developed by the Centers of Disease Control. Determination of each parish’s risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is based on the number of new cases of 100,000 population and the percentage of molecular tests that are positive over the most recent one-week reporting period.

Around the state, Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continued to rise sharply Tuesday as the omicron strain continued its rapid spread across the state.

LDH reported 6,046 new confirmed cases and 3,244 more probable cases on Tuesday. That brings the seven-day total of confirmed cases to 45,133, nearly 6.7% higher than the previous weekly high at the peak of the delta surge last summer.

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