From staff reports
Amid ongoing challenges by parents to the prevailing school mask mandate, North East School District leaders remain firm in their decision to follow the Health Department’s order.
Effective Sept. 7, the non-optional order issued by the Health Department’s Acting Secretary Allison Beam requires that all students and staff wear face coverings while in school.
The Health Department’s order was followed by a letter from the Department of Education reminding school districts across the commonwealth that failure to follow the order subjects school board members to to the penalties of the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.
School board members were also advised in the letter that they can be held personally liable if there is a failure on the school’s part to comply with the mask order. This includes personally facing lawsuits if children become ill as a result of the district’s violation or disabled children who are unable to attend school because of the the district’s noncompliance.
If a school were to be found in violation, the district would face the prospect of insurers’ canceling liability coverage in addition to the possibility of worker’s compensation claims being negatively affected, according to the letter from Secretary of Education Noe Ortega.
The letter continues to note that districts in noncompliance may be referred to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Immunocompromised students being prevented from attending class, due to a school failure to comply, is a violation of the IDEA, ADA, and Rehabilitation Act.
Following issuance of the Education’s Department’s letter, school districts within the Northwest Sri-County Intermediate Unit 5 — which includes North East School District – received a letter acknowledging the warning from the Education Department and reiterating the same points.
North East School District’s website, www.nesd1.org, has Covid statistics and weekly updates at the top of its home page.
As of Nov. 2, Davis Elementary and the Intermediate Elementary schools each had one active on-campus case.
On-campus is defined as an individual having been in school during his or her infectious period.
The Update Center on the website includes the school district’s Health and Safety Plan, other resources for families and frequently asked questions.