Saint Marys Area School District

977 S. Saint Marys Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857 Phone: 814.834.7831
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Important Notice

Dutch Families,

I am sharing an important notice with you that I just received. Please see below after my comments.

As a district, we intend to begin school in person with students on August 27th. Our Pandemic Plan team continues to work with team members and medical personnel. We do not want to rush to complete a plan... we just need to have a Pandemic Plan in place for the start of school. This is NOT a race with other school districts. This plan will be flexible and fluid and meet guidelines where feasible. I am sure it will change over the course of the school year.

As you prepare for your student for school, please be ready to send your child to school with a mask, their own refillable water bottle and personal hand sanitizer.

Our intent is to do the best we can to provide a safe environment for all.

If your choice is a virtual education, we do have the SMA Virtual Academy. In our academy, we use our teachers and our curriculum. We have learned quite a bit about virtual education and expect our academy to be greatly improved. Students in the SMA Virtual Academy may participate in ALL school activities and are eligible for a SMA diploma. I ask that you choose SMA Virtual over a cyber charter option.
Please contact the district office for more information.

Best to all...Stay Healthy... and

God Bless America!

Dr. Toth

Now, the important notice: https://www.governor.pa.gov/…/gov-wolf-sec-of-health-signs…/

Does the Order of the Secretary of the PA Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings apply to children and adults while in schools?

Yes, this Order applies to all individuals while in school entities, including public K-12 schools, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), intermediate units (IUs); educational programming for students in non-educational placements such as residential settings (boarding schools), residential facilities, detention centers, and hospital settings; PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start Programs and Preschool Early Intervention programs; and Private Academic Nursery Schools and locally funded prekindergarten activities.

For the safety of students, staff and families, and to avoid community spread of COVID-19, students and staff are considered to be members of the public who are congregating in indoor locations. As such, they are required to adhere to this Order.

The Order is effective immediately and applies to all children aged two and older.

Why did the Secretary of the PA Department of Health issue this Order?

The Secretary issued this Order to continue to protect all in the Commonwealth from the spread of COVID-19, mindful of the need to slow the increase in the number of cases as the Commonwealth reopens and in order to avoid the resurgence that is overwhelming the health care systems and public health systems in other states who have been less successful in reopening than the Commonwealth.

Is this Order temporary?

This Order remains in effect until further notice.

What type of mask complies with this Order?

The Order requires individuals to wear a “face covering.” “Face covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. A “face covering” can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen, and, for the purposes of the order, can include a plastic face shield that covers the nose and mouth. “Face coverings” may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including but not limited to, scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. While procedural and surgical masks intended for health care providers and first responders, such as N95 respirators, would meet these requirements, these specialized masks should be reserved for appropriate occupational and health care settings.

Under what circumstances are students permitted to remove their face coverings (e.g. masks and face shields)?

Schools may allow students to remove their face coverings when students are:

1. Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart;

2. Seated at desks or assigned work spaces at least 6 feet apart; or

3. Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart (e.g. face covering breaks, recess, etc.).

Do students with disabilities need to wear face coverings?

Any student who cannot wear a mask or face shield due to a medical condition, including those with respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition, or disability, and students who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance are not required to wear face coverings. Individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or who has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication, are not required to wear a mask; however, individuals should consider using another type of face covering such as a plastic face shield.

Do schools need to update/amend their Health and Safety Plans if they have already been submitted to PDE?

Health and Safety Plans must reflect this Order. Understanding the volatility and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus, plans should be flexible enough to contemplate any future change in conditions.

Do updated/revised Health and Safety Plans need to be re-approved by local school boards?

Yes. While the Order must be implemented immediately, plan approval, if necessary, should occur at the next board meeting.

Do updated/revised Health and Safety Plans need to be resubmitted to PDE?

Yes. PDE should always have the most recently approved Health and Safety Plans on file for each Local Education Agency (LEA).

Does the Order apply to athletes and sports activities?

Yes. Everyone must wear a face covering, such as a mask, unless they fall under an exception listed in Section 3 of the Order. Coaches, athletes and spectators must wear face coverings unless they are outdoors and can consistently maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Athletes are not required to wear face coverings while actively engaged in workouts and competition that prevent the wearing of face coverings, but must wear face coverings when on the sidelines, in the dugout, etc. and anytime 6 feet of social distancing is not possible.

Must an individual provide evidence that they qualify for an exception to the Order?

No. Per the Order, students are not required to show documentation that an exception applies.

If you have additional questions, please direct them to: RA-EDEMERGENCYRESPONSE@pa.gov.