Louisiana Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Gov. Edwards to make announcement about COVID-19 mitigation

Gov. John Bel Edwards did not announce any changes Tuesday to the state’s COVID-19 mitigation methods, but says an announcement could come as early as Wednesday. His current executive order, which keeps barrooms closed, limits crowd sizes and business occupancy, and mandates face coverings in public, expires on Friday.

Edwards said following the holiday weekend he has not received the most recent recommendations of the White House coronavirus task force, which usually come on Sunday. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said last week he believes Louisiana is ready to move from “phase two” to “phase three” of the federal guidelines meant to control the pandemic.

Asked Tuesday about LSU football, which plans to kick off its season Sept. 26, Edwards said officials are “looking at” allowing in 25 percent of the number of fans as usual, which would be a little more than 25,000 people.

Louisiana Department of Education receives $42 million grant for literacy efforts

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Louisiana Department of Education a $42 million grant over five years meant to enhance literacy efforts for high-need students.

LDOE says the money will enable school systems to form “literacy leadership” teams and work with literacy coach coordinators; provide training to implement and support high-quality, evidence-based literacy activities; engage early childhood educators, teachers, principals, other school leaders, paraprofessionals, specialized instructional support personnel and instructional leaders to support in the literacy development of children and engage families and provide family literacy activities.

“We must ensure every student is a proficient reader before they exit elementary school,” State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said. “These funds will serve as a catalyst for a renewed commitment towards lifelong literacy in Louisiana.”

Louisiana seeking applications for $14.5 million in pandemic assistance for fishing industry

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will soon begin accepting applications for $14.6 million in financial assistance that will be available to Louisiana fishermen and others in the industry who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds are part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Applications open at 8 a.m. Monday and must be submitted online at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cares-act-assistance. The deadline to apply is Oct. 26.

“These funds will help to alleviate some of the financial impacts felt by so many in Louisiana’s fishing community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet.

Louisiana reopens eligibility for food benefit for poor families with school-age children

Louisiana is reopening eligibility for a food benefit program for Louisiana families whose children receive free or reduced-price lunches at school and who did not apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program in May and June can take advantage of a second application window that opened for three weeks on Tuesday.

The one-time benefits, which total $285 per child, cover 50 school days, from the onset of statewide school facility closures in March through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Parents who applied for free meals in May, after the P-EBT program was announced, will receive $91.20 per eligible child, which covers the cost of meals for 16 school days in May.

This second application period of the 2019-2020 P-EBT is only for families of the estimated 264,111 students who did not apply to receive P-EBT benefits during the initial window in the spring. When the original application window closed June 15, the families of nearly 470,800 eligible children signed up to receive benefits, officials said.