Will my child be required to wear a face mask?
Yes. All students must wear a face mask as we begin the 2021-22 school year. It is possible that once Lehigh County moves to “substantial” or lower rates of transmission, that grades 9-12, where all adults and students have had an opportunity to vaccinate, the masking mandate may be lifted; Emmaus High School may return to masking optional. Until a vaccine is approved and vaccine opportunities are broadly available for students ages 2-11, it is unlikely that the masking mandate will be lifted in grades K-8 unless rates of transmission in Lehigh County are “moderate” or “low”.
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 opportunities for children 2-11 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 as we begin the 2021-22 school year.
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.
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.