Keeping Our Schools Open 2021-2022

Frequently Asked Questions

mask
Mask Related Questions
Last updated September 3

Will students and staff be required to wear masks in school? 
Yes. On August 31, 2021, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health announced 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. The current DOH Order aligns with our approved Health & Safety Plan and the District will comply with the Order. (click here to view the Order)
 
Staff – If a staff member believes he/she has a medical or mental health condition or disability that would inhibit him/her from wearing a face covering (i.e. a mask, face shield), please reach out to Mrs. Suzanne Tabachini, Director of Human Resources, to begin the one-on-one process of determining if an accommodation is appropriate.
 
Students – If your child has a medical or mental health condition or disability that you believe would inhibit him/her from wearing a face covering (i.e. a mask, face shield), and it has not already been documented, please reach out to your school principal to discuss your child’s need for accommodation. Documentation provided must be in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA of such medical or mental health condition or disability.
 
Parents are encouraged to provide a well-fitting face covering for their child. Masks will be available on buses and at buildings in case of need.

Are there exemptions to the Order to wear a face covering (mask/shield)?
For both staff and students, it is important to note that a doctor’s note alone is not sufficient documentation to exempt an individual from wearing a mask or face shield.  Approved medical exemptions from last year will be extended for those individuals who notify the administration in writing of the continued need for such accommodation.  As a reminder, the current Order requiring masks does not include an exemption for religious reasons. Please refer to the bullets in the answer above for additional details on submitting an exemption. 
 
What will occur if my child does not wear a mask?
Refusal to wear a mask will result in a student being sent home. 
 
Will parents be permitted to switch between in person and virtual learning as a result of the masking Order?
Due to logistical and operational challenges, such as staffing, as well as the general disruption to student learning, switching learning options will not occur before the start of the second marking period on Monday, November 1, 2021.
 
Where can I learn more about the mask Order?

Is the District requiring masks for students and staff on District transportation?
Staff and students will be required to wear a face mask while riding school transportation in alignment with the CDC Order regarding public transportation. If the mask mandate requirement placed on transportation is lifted, we will modify expectations accordingly.
 
Bus drivers will have a supply of disposable masks and provide them to students who do not have a mask. The District is encouraging voluntary compliance with the CDC order, but it will not deny school transportation services nor impose disciplinary measures upon students for non-compliance with the CDC order. Please note, students who are identified as a close contact and are not wearing a mask will be required to quarantine for ten days minimally.
washing hands
Mitigation Related Questions

What are the mitigation efforts and safety protocols in place to ensure the health and well-being of our students, staff, and families?
Current CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidance recommends in-person learning and a layered approach to keeping students and staff safe. 
 
Monitoring Student and Staff Health
The most important thing families can do to help limit the spread of COVID-19 is to check their children daily for any symptoms and keep them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Students and staff are expected to complete the CDC's daily home screening checklist each morning before leaving for school. Parents are asked to support school health by keeping children home if they are sick or symptomatic.
  • Families and staff are asked to notify the school of a confirmed/presumed positive COVID-19 test result of an individual who was present in our schools/facilities.
  • Posters around the school will remind students and staff to screen themselves before and after school, sports, activities, and events.
Cleaning and Ventilation Protocols
  • Occupied areas, such as offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, workrooms, and bathrooms, high-touch surfaces, such as water fountains, door handles, and light switches will be cleaned daily while students and/or staff are present.
  • Safe cleaning products (ex. soap and water) for use on individual or shared learning spaces and materials will be provided for staff and student use throughout the day.
  • Adjustments to HVAC systems and building procedures will continue to increase the amount of fresh air exchange. HVAC systems will run for a minimum of two hours prior to and following occupancy in all spaces per ASHRAE, EPA, and CDC guidance. HEPA filtration (air scrubbers) will be located in each nurse’s office as recommended by ASHRAE.
 Hygiene
  • Students and staff will be encouraged to wash hands frequently, using soap and water. Additional reinforcement and monitoring of hand washing will be provided prior to lunch and upon return from breakfast, snack, and recess. 
  • Classrooms at all levels without sinks will be provided with hand sanitizer bottles. Hand sanitizing products will be readily available in common areas, and students may bring their own sanitizers to school as well.
  • Posters around the school will remind students and staff to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible, to avoid contact with people who are sick, to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into their upper sleeve or elbow, and to wash their hands after coughing and sneezing.
Social Distancing
  • Our goal is to maintain distance to the greatest extent possible.
  • Teachers will continue to limit ancillary furniture in classrooms, thereby increasing open spaces.
  • Spacing will be considered when organizing small groups. Working in small groups is a best practice in teaching and learning and will be supported as we work to close learning gaps due to COVID. 
  • Hallways and classroom transitions will be monitored to encourage distancing.
  • Elementary students will be permitted to mix with friends from other classrooms during outdoor recess. There will be no restrictions to equipment access.
  • All students will be permitted to travel between different classrooms during the school day.
Transportation
  • Students and staff are required to wear a mask while riding the bus.
  • Buses will be disinfected at the conclusion of the morning, mid-day, afternoon, and extracurricular runs. This includes handrails, bus seats, and other high touch surfaces. 
  • Windows and roof hatches will be open whenever possible for increased ventilation.
Athletics and Student Activities
  • In addition to following the hygiene and safety protocols established by the District for the school setting, advisors and coaches will ensure equipment is properly cleaned and wiped down at the conclusion of the activity. 
  • Students and staff will wear appropriate athletic clothing/shoes at all times to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment surfaces, and refrain from sharing clothing/towels.  
  • Athletes and coaches are encouraged to bring their own water to practices and games, and water bottles should not be shared. Hydration stations will be available as provided by the Athletic Trainer.

What will influence the District's decisions regarding delivery models, closures, or additional mitigation efforts?
  • Local context (number of school-related cases, number of COVID-19 related absences, most recent trend for community spread, number of hospitalizations, etc.)
  • Input from local healthcare providers
  • Experience of other local, regional, and national schools 
  • Updated guidance and recommendations
  • Decisions will be made in the safest and least disruptive manner in an effort to impact the least number of individuals, groups, teams, programs, classrooms, buildings, etc. 
school nurse taking temperature
COVID-19 Related Questions
Last update August 29

What if someone is sick at school?
If a student or staff member is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms, they will be sent to the nurse’s office. It is important to remember that although students may be experiencing symptoms, they are not automatically presumed positive for COVID-19.
 
What if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
It is important that families and staff communicate with school officials. Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who shows signs or symptoms of illness should stay home and contact their health care provider for further guidance. 
 
Following the CDC's guidance on what to do if a student becomes sick or reports a new COVID-19 diagnosis at school, ill students can return to school and end isolation once the following are met: 10 days out from the start of the symptoms, AND fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication, AND symptoms have improved.
 
Following any report of a positive case, health services staff will contact the PA DOH and follow any guidance to assist in contact tracing. Additionally, we will closely review any materials, equipment or areas of the building that may require additional cleaning or disinfecting prior to the next school day.
 
Will the District conduct contact tracing? When will a student need to quarantine/isolate?
We will assist the PA DOH with contact tracing to determine close contacts and recommended quarantine timeframes. Determinations of close contacts and individuals needing to quarantine/isolate will be guided by information from the CDC.
 
  • A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet for 15 or more consecutive minutes within 2 days prior to illness onset.
  • If a staff member or student was wearing a mask when deemed a close contact, as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms, they will not be required to quarantine; however, they shall also continue to wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days and get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms.
  • If a fully vaccinated staff member or student is deemed a close contact, as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms, they will not be required to quarantine; however, they shall also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days and get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms.
  • Staff and students testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to isolate.

COVID Procedure Flow Chart
Click here to view the District's flowchart developed to assist families and staff in determining the proper procedures should they test positive for COVID, report they are living with a COVID positive individual, or be identified as a close contact. Additionally, the PA DOH has provided a document to assist individuals in determining quarantine and isolation timeframes, click here to review the DOH document.

Will the District utilize a COVID Tracker this school year?
We will provide a weekly summary of student and staff reported active cases and quarantine numbers for each school. Click here to view the tracker, which will be updated for the first time on Friday, September 3, at noon.
 
Will parents receive notification when a COVID-19 case is reported at their child's school?
We will notify staff and families of children who have been determined to be a close contact. There will not be a building-wide notification of positive COVID-19 cases like last school year, unless reported cases warrant additional mitigation efforts, such as a requirement to wear masks.
 
Will the school district conduct COVID-19 testing in the schools for students and staff who have been exposed?
PDE/DOH have made resources and programs available to school districts to conduct COVID testing. The administration is currently gathering additional information about these resources. 
boy at locker
General Questions
 
Will volunteers and visitors be permitted this school year?
Volunteers will be permitted in our buildings to support educational projects and initiatives (Junior Achievement, reading, office support, PTO events, etc.). 
 
Visits for social purposes such as lunch with your child, etc. will not be permitted as a mitigation effort.
  
Will middle and high school students receive a locker assignment?
Secondary students will be provided with locker access this year.
 
Will secondary students utilize uniforms for physical education classes?
Students will wear uniforms for physical education classes this year. Opportunities to purchase uniforms will be provided by the individual schools at back-to-school nights and through the Physical Education teachers.
 
Will students be able to purchase alternate food options in addition to what is the scheduled menu item for the day?
It is always our goal to provide students with varied options that are healthy and meet the requirements of the National School Lunch Program. Options have been limited throughout the pandemic primarily due to staffing shortages in our kitchens. If you or anyone you know are interested in working in one of our kitchens, please visit our employment page or contact us for additional information.
© 2021. West Shore School District. All Rights Reserved.
School CMS Created by eSchoolView
Site Map
View text-based website