PA Department of Health Face Covering Order
On Tuesday, August 31, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a face mask Order for all school districts in the Commonwealth (both public and private) effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021. This Order REQUIRES ALL students, staff, and school visitors to wear a solid, protective face covering that covers their nose and mouth inside our schools at all times unless an official exception has been sought and approved.
There will be times during the school day where students will be able to remove their masks, including scheduled mask breaks, lunchtime and outdoor recess. The Order does not apply to students participating in athletics inside or outside or physical education classes indoors. Please help us with this masking effort by explaining the face covering expectation to your child. As this is a change from what our students have become accustomed to these past two weeks, if you need a face covering for your child, the school district will provide one through your child’s school. As a reminder, staff and students must continue to wear a face covering on all school buses/vans in alignment with a federal mandate that is still in place.
This Order was issued pursuant to authority granted to the Pennsylvania Department of Health under the Disease Prevention and Control Law, 35 P.S. Section 521.5. The Order requires that schools enforce the masking requirement as the Pennsylvania Department of Health has the broad legal authority to issue this Order. Violations of the Disease Prevention and Control Law are subject to potential penalty through a criminal summary offense, with the potential of fines and/or jail time (35 P.S. Section 521.20). Again, this is something that the Order requires, and each of our staff members could be held personally liable if he/she does not enforce the Order. Moreover, our board-approved Health and Safety plan already addressed that we will follow local, state, and federal mandates. We will continue to monitor this Order and make any necessary adjustments if and when it expires.
We recognize this Order is unwanted by some families; however, the reality is that there has been one issued, and it must be implemented whether we like it or not. We have consulted our legal council and they are in agreement with this position. Additionally, we have heard from a few parents with intentions not to comply and demand that their children be admitted to school without a mask to “take a stand” or “make a statement” about how parents/guardians oppose the Order. As a District, we respectfully ask that these types of actions be avoided as they will only serve to escalate the issue and potentially damage relationships between students and staff.
We also understand that due to this new Order, some families may want to choose a different educational model for their child. Therefore, the District will reopen a short window for families to opt into a different educational model, including moving from in-person instruction to Etown Cyber (Independent only) or moving from Etown Cyber (Real Time only) to in-person instruction. Families may not enroll their children in Etown Cyber Real Time during this window. The window to request this change will close on Friday, September 10. Please contact your child’s building principal if you are interested in more information about this option.
This INDOOR measure should assist us in maintaining in-person instruction at all levels by minimizing the number of our own students in quarantine. When all students, staff, and visitors are wearing a mask, the contact tracing distance changes from 6 feet to 3 feet. This will undoubtedly reduce the number of quarantined individuals. It should also preserve opportunities for students to participate in the extracurricular activities they enjoy. We hope you will do your part in keeping our schools open and our students learning.
In closing, despite the ever-changing landscape, our District remains committed to providing the very best education to your child, whether this be in person or online. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and grace during these challenging times.
Questions may be directed to Mr Troy Portser, Director of School and Community information, at firstname.lastname@example.org.