NOLA Public Schools lifts mask mandate, Children’s Hospital celebrates zero pediatric Covid hospitalizations

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 9:43 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A beautiful March day gave families an excuse to get some fresh air after class. As Covid numbers continue to improve in the state, it means more students can take off their masks in the classroom.

“We followed the rules and if they say we wear a mask, we wear a mask, if they say we don’t have to, we don’t have to,” said parent, Caroline Young.

“I’m gonna make them keep their mask on at school,” said Deidre Winzy.

Starting Monday, NOLA Public School students K-12 won’t have to wear their masks. The school district cited low community transmission.

“As a city, we’re below 2%, our positivity rate right now,” said Dr. Ryan Pasternak.

The decision to lift the mandate falls in line with CDC guidance, and chief medical officer doctor Ryan Pasternak says they also waited to see if cases would rise in the weeks following Mardi Gras.

“We’re gonna keep monitoring those levels. And if things go up, and we’re back in that high-risk category, and we’ll have to revise the guidelines and go back to putting in place more measures,” said Pasternak.

At Children’s Hospital even, health leaders are rejoicing as today marks the first day since November of 2020 where not a single child is hospitalized with Covid-19.

“I felt like cheering or shouting or giving somebody a high five. It’s been a long time coming I know that we will have other children hospitalized in the days and weeks ahead, and I know some of them will be pretty sick. But it’s a time to celebrate at least today that we don’t have any kids sick in the hospital with Covid,” said Dr. Mark Kline.

While they’re taking the time to celebrate this milestone, Dr. Mark Kline cautions families this isn’t the end of Covid. What concerns him are the low vaccination rates during this lull.

“We’re near the bottom of the heap when it comes to rates of vaccination, particularly in that five to 11-year-old age group. Because we have so little Covid circulating in the community right now this would be an ideal time for people to have their kids vaccinated,” said Kline.

Deidre Winzy’s family, including her school-aged children, are vaccinated. She says her kids will keep masking at school though, as it’s her newborn at home they still need to protect.

“People are still getting Covid, still spreading Covid, so why take your mask off,” said Winzy.

Doctor Pasternack says Covid testing programs will continue for students as about 60% of Nola public school students have at least one shot.

A city spokesperson did not wish to comment on lifting the mask mandates in Nola public schools, but says we should expect an additional announcement from the administration Monday.

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