School board discusses details of pandemic plan

Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

St. Marys Area School District Board of School Directors and administration recently discussed the district’s
new 2020 Pandemic Health and Safety plan which is set to be approved in August.
In the case that a person at the schools contracts COVID-19, the school would implement proper quarantine measures. That person would need to present a physician’s statement in order to return to school.
Also the local school board can declare an emergency if they are down enough students/staff, or are told by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to close, then rely on virtual education for the necessary number of days to clear the emergency. This can only happen if the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) approves an application from the school district. Additional information on this subject is expected to be presented at the school board’s August meeting.
An in-depth discussion took place at the workshop regarding mask requirements. As recently stated by the Secretary of the PA DOH, all students, staff and visitors to public, private, career and tech, and charter schools are required to wear a face covering. This order is effective immediately both indoors and outdoors and remains in place until further notice. It applies to all children two years of age and older. Additional restrictions were also issued along with exceptions for those who cannot wear a mask, such as those with with asthma, allergies, disabilities, respiratory issues, mental health conditions or those unable to remove a mask without assistance.
Masks may only be removed to eat or drink, when seated at desks or assigned work spaces or engaged in any activity, so long as students are spaced at least six feet apart. Toth said this will be difficult in many school settings as space is limited in classrooms.
Toth stated this presents an issue since students are not required to present documentation as to why they do not wear a mask.
“This order has put school district’s in a bigger pickle than before,” Toth said.