AFA of PA ACTION ALERT
September 7, 2021
Options on School Mask Mandate
On August 6, 2021 the Senate Education Committee held an hour and a half hearing on COVID protocols for K-12 schools. Here’s the link to that hearing.
Senator Doug Mastriano’s questioning begins at 29:08 and then again at 50:50.
Highlights from his questioning:
- No funds will be withheld from schools that do not comply with mask mandate
- No schools have been held liable by PA Department of Education for allowing parents to decide on masks.
- All COVID deaths are tragic; 14 Pennsylvanians 15-20 have died
- When asked about swine flu and bird flu deaths compared to COVID deaths and the fact that there were no school lock downs or mask mandates during the swine and bird flu outbreaks, Acting Health Secretary Beam had no response.
Here’s the link to German study referred to by Senator Mastriano.
All schools must have a Health and Safety Plan posted on their website. Governor Wolf was not pleased that only 59 school districts included mask mandates in their plans and on August 31st Governor Wolf’s Department of Health issued a mask mandate for all students, employees and visitors in public and private schools, all childcare and early learning centers. In May the voters of PA sent a message to Governor Wolf reining in his emergency powers and, as of now, no emergency declaration has been declared, so the PA Department of Health has stepped in. However, their directive gives parents options. Here’s the link to their directive – especially check out Section 3.
Section 4 — Schools must provide “reasonable accommodations for individuals who state they have a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the person to maintain a face covering.” Note: no requirement for a doctor’s excuse is mentioned in the directive.
Parents should have the final say in whether their child should wear a face mask throughout the school day. If you are concerned about your child being required to wear a face mask in order to attend school, here’s what you need to do:
Write a letter for each of your children to your school principal(s): include child’s name and grade.
State you are claiming an exception to the 8/31/21 Face Covering Requirement from the PA Department of Health under Section 3: Exceptions to Covering Requirement:
The following are exceptions to the face covering requirement in Section 2. All alternatives to a
face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is excepted from this Order:
B. If wearing a face covering would cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing
one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
Then, remind the school that the Order also outlines their obligations under Section 4 and list those:
Section 4: School Entity must:
4. Provide reasonable accommodations for individuals who state they have a medical condition,
mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the person to maintain a face covering.
5. School entity should not:
a. Enforce face covering requirements when there is an exception under Section 3 or if it is unsafe to do so.
b. Restrain, use force, or physically remove, teachers, children/students, staff or visitors who refuse to comply with this Order when it would not otherwise be legal to do so.
c. Violate other laws, including state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
Reiterate the exception you are seeking is Option B, under Section 3: wearing a face covering would cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
Finally, ask the principal to notify all staff and administrators of this exception, which goes into effect immediately, and ask that your child not be approached by any school district personnel regarding this matter.
Additionally, ask for acknowledgement of receipt of the letter in writing and, if they are unable or unwilling to comply with your requested exception, ask them to send a letter describing in detail their refusal. Make sure to sign, date and include your phone number in closing the letter.