Mask Mandate Updates
Update September 1, 2021 (All Call Sent at 5 pm)
As you are probably aware, yesterday Governor Tom Wolf and the PA Department of Health ordered that all individuals in K-12 school settings must wear face coverings beginning Tuesday, September 7, 2021 regardless of vaccination status. The order states, “Each teacher, child/student, staff, or visitor working, attending, or visiting a School Entity shall wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status…”
In compliance with this order, all students and staff must wear a face covering while indoors in a school building beginning Tuesday, September 7.
The order does permit individuals with health conditions to be exempted from this order. If any student or staff member has such a condition, they may provide the school nurse with a letter from their doctor stating that they are exempt from wearing a face covering. If your student had a doctor’s note exempting him/her from wearing a face covering last year, that note would still be valid this school year.
The order also states that face coverings are not required in the following instances:
-while eating or drinking
-while playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering
-while participating in high intensity aerobic or anerobic activities including during physical education classes in a well-ventilated location and while maintaining a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals
-while a student is participating in a sports practice activity or event, whether indoors or outdoors
-while students are engaged in other activities outdoors, such as recess
I understand that this may not be a popular decision with everyone but requiring masks does help ensure that fewer students will need to be quarantined if they come into contact with a positive individual. Currently, we are required to quarantine students who are within 6 feet of a positive individual if one or both of the students are unmasked. With the mask requirement, the distance for quarantining an individual is now if students were closer than 3 feet apart. This means that as long as students are both masked and farther than 3 feet away from each other, they will not need to quarantine if they are around a positive individual. In most situations in school, students can be seated more than 3 feet from another individual.
Currently, the district has nearly 40 students quarantined between both buildings due to being considered close contacts to a positive or probable individual. This number would be substantially reduced using the new requirement of 3 feet while both individuals were masked.
We have no idea if and when this mask order will be lifted, but the Governor did say in the press conference yesterday that he and the PA Department of Health will reevaluate the order based on the Covid-19 conditions in Pennsylvania over the next few weeks.
Our goal throughout the year has been to provide in-person education for our students. Over the summer, our School Board voted to give parents the option to mask their children. The district has also stated that it will follow any mandates that were ordered as they were issued. While the board voted to give parents a choice regarding masks, this order is considered a mandate and we are required to follow it.
If you would like to review the PA Department of Health order for yourself, you may view a copy of it HERE.
We were caught off guard at the announcement, like many of you. But even so, our job now is to navigate this together and focus on providing students with the best possible education. Your patience, understanding, and support always go a long way in helping to ensure a successful year.
I would be happy to speak with anyone who has questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-658-4501 ext 2301.
Dr. Michael A. Ross
Update August 31, 2021 (All Call Sent at 3 pm)
Union Community: As many of you heard, the governor and the PA Department of Health have issued a mask mandate for all K-12 schools starting on September 7, 2021. We are learning this information the same time you are. Our administrative team will diligently review and evaluate the information from the press conference and forthcoming order. We will communicate with you shortly regarding any potential changes in policy and procedures in our district. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented circumstances.
Dr. Michael A. Ross