RLASD Masking Order Response
Dear Red Lion Area School District families,
On Tuesday, August 31st, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued an order requiring all students, teachers, and staff to wear masks when indoors effective Tuesday, September 7, the day after Labor Day. In response to your calls and emails, we hope this communication offers clarity to the questions and concerns you may have.
Did Red Lion make this decision?
No. This was issued by the Acting Secretary of Health.
Is Red Lion Advocating for Red Lion Families/Is Red Lion Pushing Back on This?
The Red Lion Area School District Board of School Directors (The Board) will do its due diligence to determine if local control can be increased in this matter.
However, unless a court issues an injunction against the Acting Secretary of Health regarding the implementation and enforcement of the Secretary’s mask order, Red Lion is obligated to comply with the provisions of that order.
The Board will continue to consult legal counsel regarding any available options that can be explored or taken.
We will continue to advocate for increased local control at the legislative level.
We have seen over and over again how supportive, strong, and caring the Red Lion Area Community can be. We believe that despite any differences, we will arrive at a thoughtful position after debate and consideration.
We ask for all to work together to support the most disruption-free and safest school environment possible, even if disagreements persist.
What About Local Control?
Red Lion Area advocated for and embraced local control as an essential component to respond to COVID this year. We had repeatedly been informed that COVID response plans would be a local decision, which we celebrated.
The result was our current RLASD Health and Safety Plan. This was a locally-developed plan generally reflective of local wishes. We do acknowledge some members of our community are conflicted about this plan.
Our plan was to start with specific measures in place and adjust as conditions changed. Red Lion Area schools opened with a mask-optional approach, and we are sure many of your children have talked about how refreshingly different school feels this year compared to last year.
We are disappointed this decision is not a local one, and the Board is wrestling with these difficult decisions. It is clear that we all care about children and want the best for them.
Parents and schools are in a tough position. We hear you and understand that many are upset and frustrated at the COVID protocols. Many are upset that local control has been diminished. Our community is exhausted from it all.
We are committed to thoughtful deliberation, respectful disagreement at times, and developing solutions that everyone can get behind.
Right now, the public debate on this is framed as winners and losers, either-or, and we are struggling to find a path, a place of unity.
What Will School Look Like Next Week?
Exactly like it did this week, but students are expected to wear masks.
Mask exceptions are the same as last year and will be handled through the Office of Special Education and/or Pupil Services.
Didn’t the Board Have to Vote If Universal Masking Was to be Required?
This order supersedes RLASD’s own Health and Safety Plan. The Pennsylvania Department of Education states, “Regardless of whether the Acting Secretary’s August 31, 2021 Order is reflected in a school entity’s Health and Safety Plan, all school entities must comply with and enforce the Order.”
What If I Send My Child To School Without a Mask?
Teachers and principals need your help. Working together to make sure school runs smoothly is essential to your child's educational success. RLASD will provide masks for any child who does not have one. We ask parents to encourage their children to adhere to this so we can focus our efforts on providing a great learning environment. We will implement frequent mask breaks, find ways to increase outside time without masks for students, and keep students focused on learning.
How Will Red Lion Area Schools Enforce This?
We will offer reminders to students who forget and provide masks for students without them. We understand most parents do not want the school to have to enforce this, but we have to balance honoring these wishes with maintaining an orderly school environment. We ask that parents talk to their children about mask-wearing and the importance of having a disruption-free school environment.
Students who refuse or are unable to wear a face mask will work with the building principal to come to a successful resolution on a case-by-case basis. If your child qualifies for an exception to this order, please contact your child's building principal to discuss the process.
If I Disagree with This, What Are My Options?
We recognize how strong opinions are about masking in schools. Some parents have stated that they plan to withdraw their children from Red Lion if a masking requirement is implemented. While we certainly encourage parents to continue to send their children to in-person school at Red Lion while wearing a mask, we understand some will wish to find alternative schooling as a result of this order. Some have asked what options are available.
There are a number of options for parents to satisfy compulsory attendance requirements:
For any families choosing educational options outside of the Red Lion Area School District, the family will need to contact that specific organization.
What About Hybrid?
The hybrid option has been refined for the 2021-2022 school year. More information for our grades 4-12 students can be found by clicking this link: link.rlasd.net/hybrid21
Thank you for your support.