Following new regulations put forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state Department of Health, Upper Adams School District (UASD) implemented mask mandates as of Tuesday.
UASD updated its mask procedures to comply with the recent state education and health department notices, now mandating masks on buses and inside facilities but not while outside, District Superintendent Wesley Doll said.
The school board had recently approved a health and safety plan implementing masks as “optional but highly encouraged,” as schools prepared to fully open in August.
Wearing masks inside public schools has now been “superseded by the Department of Health’s order,” according to Robert McQuaide school solicitor.
If the school district willfully violates the order the state Department of Education can, among other punishments, “withhold funds,” as well could put Doll’s commission as district superintendent in jeopardy, he said.
Students who refuse to wear masks without exemptions can face insubordination and noncompliance with disciplinary actions as noted in the code of conduct procedures, similar to if a student refuses to take off a hat inside, McQuaide said.
McQuaide’s explanation of the mandate was received by interruptions by in-person members of the audience voicing frustrations until a momentary recess was called by Wilson.
Outlines about the mandate were sent out to families including information and resources about the mask exception process, Doll said.
Parents or guardians must schedule to meet with their student’s principal to discuss if they meet disability requirements for mask exemption, Doll said. Exceptions granted from the previous year will carry over, he said.
Although it sounds simple, keeping students home if they are sick “will help us significantly keep our numbers of quarantine and Covid cases low,” Doll said.
School board members had stated at previous meetings that no guidance had been received from the state as they worked on the health and safety plan.
In other business, Bendersville Elementary School was approved for sale to David G. Martin, Hope Mennonite Fellowship, Inc., in the amount of $595,000.00.