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PA Masks/Face Covering Mandate for School Entities

On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health signed an Order requiring face coverings to be worn in all school entities, including school districts, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers, intermediate units, and early learning and other child care settings, effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021. All staff, students, and individuals who enter our building will be required to wear a mask regardless of their vaccine status.
 
September 3, 2021
 
Dear Windber Area School District Families:
 
As you know, at the August 10, 2021 meeting of the Windber Area School District's Board of Directors, the WASD Health and Safety Plan making face¬ coverings optional was approved. On August 31, 2021, Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, with the Governor's authority granted through the Disease Control and Prevention Act (not via emergency powers), issued a mask order to all schools in Pennsylvania. This mask order will go into effect on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
 
After much study of this order and related documents, below you will find the important points:

1. The order states that, “the CDC has issued a strong recommendation for masking of all persons, teachers, students and staff, within the nation's schools, regardless of vaccination status, to create a multilayered approach for fighting COVID and to keep our schools open for in-person education. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also strongly recommended masking in schools."

2. The order does not prohibit parental exceptions from face-coverings. Attached to this letter you will find an exception form for your child. The order does not require a physician's note, so this form-signed by a legal parent or guardian is acceptable.

• If you plan to submit this form, you should do so AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, preferably on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Parents are encouraged to submit the form at the bottom of this document via email or with your child to the respective Building Principal.

• If you have multiple children for whom you plan to submit parental exceptions, please submit a separate form for each child.

• The deadline to submit the form is Friday, September 10, 2021.

3. Unlike last year, students will not be considered "close contacts" and have to be quarantined if they are within six feet of one another and both are wearing masks. If obtaining emergency childcare is difficult for you or if your child is in sports or other extracurricular seasons in which quarantining would present challenges, you may want to consider that when determining whether or not to submit an exception.

4. Also of note, parents may also elect for their children to wear face shields that cover the eyes, nose, and mouth (NOT spit shields) rather than masks or gators. The District does have these items on hand and available, but the supply is limited.
 
 
 
Another critical point that we must emphasize is that ill students should stay home from school.
 
Beyond any State or Federal funding consequences for school districts that do not follow the order, school district liability insurance carriers will not cover districts that defy the mandate. Therefore, in order to protect the WASD taxpayers from significant financial harm, all school districts must follow the directive as written.
 
While everyone is entitled to their own opinions and viewpoints, our school district will abide by laws and orders as set forth by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Those seeking to see change in those laws and orders should contact their State legislators. Our schools are not the place for a political battle. As this community has proven time and again, working together, we can accomplish great things.
 
If you have any questions please feel free to contact your child’s (children’s) respective Building Principal. The contact information is listed below. The WASD will continue to value our students’ safety and hope that we can continue to move forward with in-person learning this school year.
 
Sincerely,
Joseph K. Kimmel
Superintendent of Schools