The August Edition

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— August —

COVID Spikes Across the State

On August 25th, Louisiana reported the single deadliest day of the entire pandemic, with 139 deaths from COVID-19 and 3,814 new cases. Unlike previous waves of the virus, the delta variant is further impacting children. On Wednesday, August 25th, COVID claimed its youngest victim, a child under the age of one. In total, 11 children have died from COVID in Louisiana, many more have been hospitalized, and over 6,000 K-12 students have tested positive.
This month Louisiana became the state with the highest amount of COVID spread, and continues to be one of the most impacted state. Louisiana is also one of the least vaccinated states, which contributes to the ongoing spread. 40% of people in Louisiana are fully vaccinated, but that number is going up every day and given the recent surge, more people are making the decision to get vaccinated.

Vaccine Gets Final Approval

On Monday, August 23rd the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, making it the first to move beyond emergency-use status in the United States. This has helped alleviate concerns of many who were hesitant to take the vaccine when it was only authorized for emergency use.
Children under 12 still do not have the ability to get vaccinated, but adults can help protect them from becoming infected by getting fully vaccinated as soon as possible. If you still have concerns about the COVID vaccine, please take a moment to review some of the myths vs. facts, and talk to your doctor.

LFT Petitions BESE for Waiver to Help Teachers

On Monday, August 16th, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education that would allow for a one-year pause to the state's school performance scores for the 2020-2021 school year. Most other states have already applied for and received similar waivers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that school test scores will take a hit because of the pandemic and unprecedented hurricane season.
But if we’re going to give schools a break, shouldn’t teachers also get the same? LFT has consistently fought to ensure that teachers not be punished for showing up and delivering for their students in the midst of a global health crisis. After this development at BESE, LFT President Larry Carter sent a letter to Board President Sandy Holloway and State Superintendent Cade Brumley highlighting the need for the Board to apply for another waiver to give teachers a needed reprieve. “The disorder of education due to COVID-19 and extraordinary weather events during the 2020-2021 school year resulted in inaccurate and unreliable educational outcomes and misleading measures that should not be a basis for evaluating teachers or students,” said President Carter. Click here to read the full letter.

BESE Meeting Erupts into Chaos

On Wednesday August 18th the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had their regularly scheduled meeting, but it was interrupted by anti-mask protesters. This particular meeting was highly watched because the Attorney General Jeff Landry indicated that the Board may have the ability to override the mask mandate imposed by the Governor and public health officials as it pertains to schools. Whether or not the Board has the authority to overrule the mask mandate is uncertain. Medical experts have said that, without a mask mandate, schools could become the site of major outbreaks of the coronavirus, especially since children younger than 12 cannot take the vaccine.
The chamber was full of anti-mask activists, many of which came to debate that particular issue. Despite multiple requests from staff and members of the Board, and an alternative space where people could watch the meeting without a mask, many protesters continued to refused to put on their masks, which is required in all state buildings. Eventually, the Board voted to adjourn early, before the debate over masking in schools. While the issue could theoretically be taken up at a future meeting, at this time the mask mandate remains in place for all students and staff in Louisiana public schools.

LFT & Locals Win ‘Back-to-School for All’ Grants

Louisiana Federation of Teachers and select affiliate Locals have been awarded grants from the American Federation of Teachers to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that schools are able to provide safe, in person education to our students.
The AFT has a back-to-school campaign every year, but this time they are ramping it up to meet unprecedented challenges. This campaign is a vital part of our mission to get students back to school and keep them there, safely. The past 16 months have been incredibly difficult, and turning the page from that difficult chapter requires the engagement of all AFT members. So, we’re especially excited about this year’s Back to School for All campaign and look forward to supporting teachers and school employees doing the important work to educate our next generation.