Will my child be required to wear a face mask?
Yes. All students must wear a face mask during the 2021-22 school year. It is possible that, once Lehigh County moves to “substantial” or lower rates of transmission, the masking mandate may be lifted.
The only exceptions to the mandatory face covering requirements are as follows:
- Any student who has a medical or mental condition or disability, with pertinent supporting medical information, and documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA.
- Any staff member who has a medical or mental condition or disability, with pertinent supporting medical information, and documented in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
In order to request an exemption from wearing a mask, a parent or guardian must present a medical excuse signed by a doctor to the school nurse or building administrator specifically stating that they are medically exempt from wearing a mask.
How long will mandatory masking last?
The school district continues to monitor community transmission rates, vaccination rates, hospitalizations, and vaccination booster opportunities for children 5-18 yrs of age.
The current recommendation of both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics is to require universal masking in K-12 schools when the local transmission rates are “High”. The district will reevaluate masking requirements based on changes in any of the above considerations.
The district will communicate any changes to masking or other mitigation measures through all communication channels.
Will visitors be required to wear masks?
Yes. All visitors will be required to wear a mask in all school buildings.
Why is masking an advantage with contact tracing requirements and quarantine requirements?
In August 2021, the CDC provided an exemption to indoor classrooms in K-12 schools that provides relief for contact tracing and quarantine requirements if both the Covid positive student and the close contact are both masked. Likewise, the exemption provides some relief if the Covid positive student and staff members are both masked and the staff member is vaccinated.
For instance, in the 20-21 school year the CDC required contact tracing for any students, regardless of masked or unmasked, if they were under 6 ft for more than 15 minutes consecutive or cumulative. Now if all students are masked, no students need to be contact traced. This greatly reduces the need to quarantine students.
Will my student have an option to be fully remote?
Yes. Students may choose our remote option, which is called VESPA. At elementary, students will need to remain in VESPA for at least a semester for continuity and grading purposes. At secondary, students will need to remain in VESPA for at least a quarter. More information about VESPA can be found here.
Are students and staff required to stay at home when they are sick?
Yes. Parents will be asked to screen students at home each morning as they did during the 2020/21 school year. Any students or staff who are experiencing Symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home.
When will school buildings be closed due to Covid cases? EPSD will consult with the Department of Health in regards to Covid cases in the district and when school buildings should be closed.
What do I do if my child tests Positive for COVID?
- Please keep your child home and notify the school nurse as soon as possible.
- The school nurse will request documentation of the positive result.
- The school nurse will determine how long the student needs to isolate and when the student may return to school. The nurse will send a detailed email, delineating dates.
- The school will initiate the contact tracing process. Anyone within the school community who is deemed a close contact will be notified.
- The Director of Student Services will send a report to the PA DOH regarding each individual case.
- If the student was present on campus within a 48 hour time period of symptom onset or positive testing date, the district will notify the EPSD community via the EPSD COVID-19 Dashboard.
Regardless of vaccination status, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for 5 days. If symptoms are improving, including being fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, they may return to school on Day 6. Upon return to school, all individuals must wear a mask at all times and remain greater than 6 ft from others if unmasked, such as lunchtime, through Day 10. Day 0 is defined as either the date of symptom onset or the date the test specimen was collected if the patient is asymptomatic.
What do I do if my child was a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
If your child was deemed a close contact of someone from school or a school activity who tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by your school nurse to review the specific quarantine timeline. If your child was a close contact of someone outside of our school community that tested positive for COVID-19, please refer to the following chart for contact tracing and quarantine guidelines.
May I submit a COVID antigen test to waive a quarantine period?
As of October 4, 2021, EPSD will not be using the results of an antibody test to determine the need for or the length of quarantine after close contact with someone who has COVID-19. This change is reflective of the revised PAHAN – 601-10-1-UPD, released on October 1, 2021.
How will lunches be conducted at each level?
Students will eat in the cafeteria. Students will be physically distanced to the greatest extent practical.
What about bussing and school transportation?
According to the Federal order issued in January 2021, the CDC requires face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, when on public transportation – this includes on school buses operated by public and private school systems. However, a driver does not need to wear a face covering if they are the only person on the bus.
What are your plans for classes like gym and aquatics?
Gym will be conducted outdoors as much as possible. Indoors, students will be distanced to the greatest extent practical. Activities in the gym and aquatics will resemble pre-Covid practices.
Will students have recess at the elementary level?
Students will have recess daily. Students will not need to wear a mask when they are outside, which is consistent with CDC guidelines.
What are your plans for music and music courses? Outdoors remains the safest place for musical rehearsal. Indoor will be distanced and follow mitigation procedures found here.
How often will classrooms be cleaned? According to the most recent CDC update, “In general, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that may be on surfaces. Disinfecting removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.”
Will students share materials?
Yes. See the above. The CDC has greatly revised their thinking regarding materials, surfaces, and disinfection. Handwashing will be encouraged and hand sanitizer will be available in classrooms. Students should use personal tools whenever possible, and students should utilize hand sanitizer or hand washing before and after using shared tools.
What about sports?
Sports will follow CDC guidelines. Students are not required to mask outdoors.
What about clubs?
Indoor clubs must follow any masking requirements and distance to the greatest extent practical while returning to pre-Covid activities.
What do I do when I return from international travel?
You might have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels. You might feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still be infected and spread the virus to others. For this reason, the CDC recommends the following:
- Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after travel.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
If You Are NOT Fully Vaccinated
In addition to the testing recommendations above
- Stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if you test negative at 3-5 days.
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.