September 5, 2021
Dear JCSD Families,
On August 31, 2021, the Acting Secretary of Health issued an order requiring that each teacher, student/child, staff member or visitor working, attending, or visiting a School Entity shall wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Students will not be required to wear face coverings while eating/drinking, playing an instrument, participating in high intensity physical activity or participating in a sports practice activity or event.
As mentioned in an earlier letter, the order will go into effect on September 7, 2021, and will remain in effect until otherwise terminated.
This order obligates School Entities to implement and enforce the above listed masking requirements. As a commissioned officer of the state, I must comply with this and all state and federal regulation. Failure to comply with this order could put school officials at risk of losing their professional certificates.
This situation is in constant flux. Just as there was last minute guidance offered, this order could be adjusted or changed at any time. If there are any changes to the order, the district will address those changes and notify the school community as soon as possible.
The district will be implementing the masking order on September 7, 2021. This is a requirement of the order from the Acting Secretary of Health. We certainly understand the surprise and concern this last minute order has caused, and we will be working with students and families for the first few days of school to ensure compliance and address any concerns. During this period, our main goal will be to educate students and families concerning the requirements of the order and allow families to make any needed adjustments.
There have been requests for exemptions submitted to the district and school buildings over the last few days. All exemptions will be evaluated in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Parents are asked include all relevant medical documentation with their written request for exemption. Without documentation, the ability of the district to evaluate and accept your request could be delayed or compromised. All students will be required to continue to wear a mask until their exemption has been approved.
If your child is not going to wear a mask, we ask that parents or guardians contact their local school administrator for other educational options. There are a variety of virtual options depending on the student’s situation, age and educational goals. Your local administrator is your best resource in this situation.
The Juniata County School District wants to offer our students a comfortable/safe environment that allows the delivery of outstanding educational opportunities. During this contentious time, my hope is we can all put aside our disagreements concerning this topic and work together to offer our students the best educational experience possible.
Dr. Gary Dawson
September 3, 2021
Dear Parents /Guardians,
Yesterday afternoon, we received notice that the PA Department of Education would be releasing updated guidance concerning the Face Covering order issued by the Acting Secretary of Health. The face covering order has made many happy and supported their belief that it is a necessary step in the pandemic battle. On the other hand, many are disappointed and angry the decision was not left in the hands of local governments and agencies to determine the best path forward for their community. Unfortunately, the school district was left with the unenviable task of implementing and enforcing the Secretary of Health’s order. We have received many questions and requests concerning exemptions and expectations during the enforcement of the face cover order. With the upcoming release of new guidance, any direction or information we would offer could be outdated in as little as a few hours. With this in mind, the district will be watching for the release so that we can provide the community with both timely and accurate information. We thank each of you for your patience as we work through this contentious issue.
Dr. Gary Dawson
September 2, 2021
The last week has been very eventful with both a hurricane dumping significant rainfall on our communities, and the Department of Health releasing an order that significantly changes our plans for the opening of schools. To address the weather issue first, Juniata County School District will open for students tomorrow, September 3, 2021. This is two days later than hoped, but the remnants of hurricane Ida made the transportation of students to and from schools uncertain and unsafe in many cases. My hope and prayers are the community will recover, and cleanup will provide for safe roads to open schools.
Next, I would like to update everyone concerning the order released by Governor Wolf and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Health. The order mandates that each teacher, child/student, or visitor working, attending, or visiting a School Entity shall wear a face covering indoors regardless of vaccination status. Students will be allowed to remove their masks while eating, drinking or outside the building.
I understand this is not what you were planning for and is a concern for many, but the masking mandate will provide benefits to students and the district. For example, if all students are wearing a face covering and meet the minimum social distancing requirements, they would not need to quarantine in a close contact event. This will allow many students to stay in school instead of the next 10 days at home in quarantine. In addition, the slowing of both quarantine cases and the spread of the COVID virus will allow our schools to remain open. If everyone remembers last year we were forced to close buildings when the number of positive cases reached a determined level.
Students will be required to follow the requirements of the Secretary of Health’s order unless they have a medical or mental condition or disability, documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of IDEA. Section 504 and IDEA permit school officials to ask for medical documentation to demonstrate a student’s need for an exemption from the order.
This order and students being required to wear face coverings, in school buildings, will take effect on September 7, 2021, and will remain in effect until the Acting Secretary of Health determines the public health risk has been sufficiently reduced so that face coverings are no longer needed as public health tools in school entities. Students will still be required to wear masks on busing tomorrow as planned. This requirement was implemented by the federal government and may continue beyond the Acting Secretary of Health’s order.
The order also defines and acceptable face covering. An acceptable “face covering” covers the mouth and nose with material that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. The “face covering” may be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics including cotton, silk, or linen.
Dr. Gary Dawson
Juniata County School District
2021 JCSD Pandemic Information - August 31, 2021
As we start the new school year, we would like to share the COVID quarantine protocols for the start of the year. Please understand, the protocols as listed below could change as the year progresses and guidance/requirements change.
· Close contact will follow the same guidelines as last year. A person within 6 feet for 15 cumulative minutes will be considered a close contact.
· Those who are considered close contacts will be required to quarantine for 10 days. They may be released early from quarantine by having testing done on or after 5 days and return after 7 days with a negative result.
· Those students who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine due to close contact but will be required to supply the JCSD health staff with proof of vaccination. It will be recommended that students who are vaccinated and considered a close contact be tested within 3 to 5 days and wear a mask in the interim.
· Students with close contact to a family member within the household will be required to wait out the family member's 10 day isolation then start the process specified above.
As is mentioned above, a student's COVID vaccination status could impact their need to quarantine. In order to ensure the most efficient application of the above protocol, we ask that parents supply your child’s COVID vaccination records to your school’s health office. These records will be stored in a confidential system and available only to the health and administrative staff so they can carry out contact tracing.
Please keep your child home and contact the school nurse immediately if:
Anyone in the household is ill, awaiting COVID test results, or has tested positive.
Your child has following symptoms:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting