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Face Coverings to be Required in all schools Tuesday, Sept 7

On Tuesday, August 31, 2021, the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued an Order mandating face coverings in all K-12 schools, both public and private. The Order is effective beginning Tuesday, September 7, 2021, our first day of school following the Labor Day holiday. The Lower Dauphin School District is required to adhere to this mandate and asks all students, staff and visitors to respectfully adhere to the mandate while in district facilities and on district transportation. The Order does not apply to athletics inside or outside or outdoor recess.

The district recognizes that this Order is a contentious issue, however, our solicitor has issued a legal opinion that we must enforce it. Therefore, masks will be required for all students, staff, and visitors within Lower Dauphin buildings starting Tuesday, September 7.

We will work with students on Tuesday with regard to the mask mandate and will communicate with students and families about mask compliance. We will offer a mask to a student without a mask. Ultimately, however, continued and intentional failure to wear a mask as required under this Order will result in disciplinary measures.

The Order does provide a few exceptions, one of which states an exception is allowed “If wearing of 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.” Please reach out to your school principal for more information about the “Student Face Covering – Exemption Request Form.” Requests will only be considered with physician signature (D.O. or M.D.) and the district will work under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to make appropriate accommodations for each individual student.

Please remember that the district’s initial Health & Safety Plan and the amended one approved by the School Board on August 23, 2021, allowed for optional face covering at the high school level. The Department of Health’s Order supersedes our local action and we are bound by law to enforce it.

We are hopeful that this change does not cause anyone to reconsider their instructional model because we still believe that even wearing face coverings, our face-to-face instructional program is best for students. However, if your student does not qualify for an exemption and your family cannot comply with the Department of Health’s Order, you are urged to contact your principal for information about the district’s online CAOLA program.