Exception Process - Post 8/31/21
- On 8/31/21, the Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health issued a statewide mask order for K-12 schools. This order provides exceptions based on medical and religious reasons.
Attorneys such as Eric Winter, Prince Law Group, have weighed in on the legality of this order:
Additionally please see this statement from the superintendent for Bald Eagle Area School District – https://www.beasd.org/article/526737
There is a specific section under school entity obligations that states:
A school entity must provide reasonable accommodations for individuals who state they have a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the person to maintain a face covering.
Under the mandate, philosophical objections, disagreeing with wearing a mask, etc. are not considered valid excuses. Students who would come to school and refuse to wear a mask without a note from a parent as described above would be subject to the school’s disciplinary policy. I ask you to please not let it come to that. I do not want to put children in the middle of this.
As a school district, we want to work with parents and while this still may not please everyone, the state has put us in a lose-lose situation. I feel this is the best way to accommodate parent concerns and still follow the mandate. Our solicitor, administrative team, and Board members I have spoken with agree.
PPPC will continue to provide additional resources to assist you with your case in your school district. It is important for you to continually engage with your principals, administrators, and school board members. Please join our Facebook group to share information with others in your school district as information is knowledge!
Please know that PPPC is working with parent groups and attorneys to fight this new order as well as any mandates that school districts issue outside of this order. If you would like to provide a financial gift to help us contribute toward various legal funds, please visit our GoFundMe page.
Thank you and keep fighting!
Updated 9/4/2021 – additional legal strategies provided by Eric Winter of Prince Law:
Updated 9/6/2021 – do not let the school tell you that a medical evaluation or a 504 plan is necessary to provide an exception:
The current Pennsylvania Department of Health Universal Face Coverings Order states:
Section 3: Exceptions to Covering Requirement
B. If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that IMPEDE BREATHING, a mental health condition or a disability.
Section 4. School Entity Obligations
A. A School Entity must:
Provide reasonable accommodations for individuals WHO STATE they have a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the person to maintain a face covering.
As the order is written:
- It does NOT require a medical evaluation from a healthcare provider.
- It does NOT state that in order to qualify for the exception that a student needs to be evaluated by the school to determine if a child has a medical condition or disability that would entitle him/her to the protections of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- It does NOT authorize a school to communicate with your student’s health provider