St. Tammany Schools reopen amid call for more local control on COVID restrictions

Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 3:20 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bell Edwards said the state will remain under phase 2 COVID restrictions at least for now. The announcement comes as several local parishes ask for more leeway in lifting restrictions

As restaurants continue to struggle with 50 percent capacity limitations under phase 2 COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. John Bel Edwards says now may not be the time to loosen things up.

“We will have a decision by tomorrow,” Edwards said.

The Jefferson Parish Council and the St. Tammany Parish president are asking the governor for more leeway in lifting restrictions.

“We were just asking for the opportunity to look at our own numbers to move forward,” said St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper.

They want decisions to be made on a regional basis as to whether restrictions should be lifted.

The parish president’s request comes at the same time as St. Tammany schools reopen, which some believe could cause COVID-19 numbers to spike.

“On phase 2 we can only have 50 percent of kids on the bus, which is 33 so we have some challenges as well,” said St. Tammany Schools Wuperintendent Pete Jabbia.

St. Tammany schools are easing into a full re-opening next week, minus 5000 students who have signed up for all distance-learning. Each day this week a quarter of the students are showing up.

“It gives us an opportunity to review routines and procedures in small groups,” Jabbia said.

Phase 2 restrictions were set to expire on Friday, but Tuesday afternoon, John Bel Edwards said he’s made no determination yet as to whether to move into phase 3.

“We will have a decision before Friday and we’re not going to rush into that decision,” Edwards said.

As they wait for that decision to be made, parish officials are making It clear, businesses are suffering and they would like more leeway In lifting COVID restrictions.

“I’m just hoping he considers the letters for the St Tammany Council at my office give the parishes the criteria knowledge to determine if we can move forward,” Cooper said.

They hope to hear from the governor soon.

So far St. Tammany school officials say they have received no complaints about Covid-19 protocols, now that schools have partially reopened.

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