FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Mask Mandate (updated 9/10/21)
- Why do we have to follow an order, when the Penn-Trafford school board adopted a Health and Safety Plan stating that masks are optional?
In August, our school board voted 8-0 to approve our Health and Safety plan with “masks optional”. Regardless of whether the Acting Secretary's August 31, 2021 Order is reflected in a school entity's Health and Safety Plan, all school entities must comply with and enforce the Order. The Secretary of Health has the authority to issue this mandate pursuant to various Pennsylvania laws, including: the Disease Prevention and Control Law, the Administrative Code of 1929, and the Department of Health’s Regulations contained in the Pennsylvania Administrative Code.
- Does this order apply to after-school activities?
Yes, this order applies to all indoor activities during and after school hours. This includes but is not limited to athletic events, extracurricular activities, school board meetings and outside groups who use our facilities.
- What are the potential consequences if a school entity fails to comply with the Order?
School officials who fail to adhere to the order could lose the protection of sovereign immunity and may personally face lawsuits from those who may be affected by any official’s attempt to ignore the order. Failing to implement or follow the control measures may expose individuals to personal liability under 42 Pa.C.S § 8550 (relating to willful misconduct), as well as other remedies as provided by law. Failure to implement and follow the control measures under the Order also subjects a person to the penalty provisions of the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.
- What will happen to students who come to school without masks?
Masks will be provided to students who are not wearing them as they enter the building. Students who refuse to wear a mask will be reminded of the district's expectations. Students will not be permitted in the building if they refuse to wear a mask and parents/guardians will be contacted to take their child home. All teachers, students, staff, and visitors are required to wear a mask when inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status, subject to certain exceptions contained in the Order.
- Will it be safe for me to drop off my child at school in the morning?
As always, we have school security on site but with the recent mask order we will have enhanced security at all buildings. We will continue to evaluate the situation daily and make adjustments as needed. We will always prioritize the health and safety of our students.
- What Exceptions are there to wearing a face covering?
Section 3 of the Order addresses Exceptions to Covering Requirement. The following are exceptions to the face-covering requirements in Section 2. All alternatives to a face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is exempt from this Order.
- If wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
- When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.
- When working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.
- If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- When the individual is under two (2) years of age.
- When an individual is: (1) Engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as eating and drinking, or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering; or 5 (2) Participating in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities, including during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals.
- When a child/student is participating in a sports practice activity or event, whether indoors or outdoors.
- I would like to request a medical exemption. What should I do?
If a student has a medical or mental health condition or disability, documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA, a parent/guardian should utilize the Penn-Trafford Student Mask Exemption Form that is located on our Covid-19 web page.
In lieu of the district form we will also accept medical documentation from a licensed physician (MD, DO, PAC, CRNP, or SNP) certifying both of the following in writing:
- A diagnosed medical or mental health condition or disability
- Wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
- A diagnosed medical or mental health condition or disability
You will need to submit all documentation to our school nurse Lisa Popovich at email@example.com. She will then contact you and your child’s school after review.
- I need time to complete the exemption form and get it signed by my child's doctor. Can I send my child to school in the meantime?
You can send your child to school with a mask until you are able to submit the exemption form or you can keep your child at home with an excused absence.
- Is there a change to the quarantine rules now that there is a mask order?
A close contact is defined as an individual who has been within 6-feet of a Covid-19 positive person for 15 consecutive minutes. The DOH adds an exception in the K-12 indoor classroom setting to exclude students who were within 3-6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) were correctly and consistently wearing well-fitting masks the entire time. The wearing of masks by students will lead to fewer quarantined students per the definition of a close contact. Prior to the order, we were required to quarantine students who were within 6 feet of an infected student unless they were vaccinated. After the first seven days of school, we had 9 active cases which led to approximately 130 student quarantines.
Health & Safety Plan
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions and additional information from the Department of Education.
Current Case Tracker
2021-2022 Archive Communications to Parents/Staff
2021-2022 Case Tracker Archive
2020-2021 Archive Communications to Parents/Staff
2020-2021 Case Tracker Archive