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PA Department of Health Announces Universal Masking Order for K-12 Schools

This afternoon, the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a new universal face masking order that applies to all students, staff members, and visitors in all K-12 schools throughout Pennsylvania. The universal face masking order goes into effect on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 and will remain in effect until further notice.

As you are well aware, the Keystone Oaks School District’s Health & Safety Plan currently requires that masks be worn indoors by all students, employees, and visitors when Allegheny County is in a substantial or high level of community transmission, as defined by the CDC. 

The District’s Health & Safety Plan also states that, “The District will follow guidelines, orders, etc. from the CDC, Pennsylvania Governor’s Office, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Allegheny County Health Department regarding the use of face coverings for students, staff, and visitors.” As such, the District will follow today’s universal face masking order while it is in effect. 

In line with today’s order, parents/guardians of students in kindergarten through grade twelve who “opt out” of wearing a mask will have to inform the District in writing and provide medical documentation from a licensed medical provider. Additionally, students may remove their masks while eating or drinking inside when socially distanced to the extent feasible, and during mask breaks, when outdoors, or participating in indoor sports and physical education classes where strenuous physical activity is taking place. 

Additionally, a plastic face shield may be worn as an alternative to a face covering, in situations where wearing a cloth face covering is not otherwise feasible. As the CDC has advised there is currently not enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of face shields. Individuals who wear face shields in a school setting may be required to quarantine if they are determined to be a close contact of an infected person. The District will work closely with the Allegheny County Health Department to make this determination.