Delaware Valley’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bell sent a recorded telephone message last Friday to all parents about the new Pennsylvania mandate requiring masks inside schools.
“We are obligated to follow the state’s rules,” he said.
He also said if parents felt their student qualified for a school mask exemption, they needed to fill out a temporary exemption form found on Delaware Valley’s home page (dvsd.org).
Parents may send the completed form to the school with their child or email it to their child’s counselor by Tuesday morning.
Bell said only a few students would qualify for an exemption.
On the district’s exemption form, the parent/guardian can check one of two choices: that wearing a face covering would cause a medical condition, or that it would exacerbate an existing condition, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a medical condition or disability.
If parents didn’t think their child qualified for a mask exemption, they had three choices for continuing their child’s education: the child can wear a mask to school, enroll in a cyber program, or be home-schooled.
The child’s school counselor will help those who choose cyber schooling or homeschooling, Bell said.
He said a federal mandate required the wearing masks on school buses.
Julie Ewald of DV’s administrative office said in an email that the school’s temporary exemption form will be the only one accepted.
Parent Meg Rosenfeld posted on Facebook Wednesday, “I called the governor’s office and explained that our school board voted to allow parents to complete a temporary mask exemption form supplied on the district’s website. This form allows children to attend school unmasked until October 1 without supplying medical documentation for a valid exemption.”
She said she was told that the temporary mask exemption form is illegal and that the office is asking the education department to investigate.
Bell did not advocate for masks in his message.
The results of a new large-scale study released last week found that the more people wore masks, the less spread of Covid there was.
At a recent school board meeting, people objecting to masks in schools successfully shouted down a resolution that masks be worn for the first two weeks of classes.
The Republican leader of the state Senate and a group of parents filed a lawsuit on Sept. 3 seeking to overturn the mask mandate.
The suit, filed in Commonwealth Court, asserts that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam failed to comply with state law when she ordered masks to be worn in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as child care facilities.
The masking order isn’t valid because it didn’t go through the state’s regulatory review process, the lawsuit said. It also accused the Wolf administration of trying to circumvent newly approved constitutional amendments limiting a governor’s emergency powers.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the masking order. The court scheduled a hearing for Sept. 16.
Lyndsay Kensinger, spokesperson for Gov. Wolf, said the health secretary’s authority is “clearly outlined in existing law.’’
“We need Republicans to stop spending their time undermining public heath and instead encourage people to get vaccinated,” she said.
Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.
“We are obligated to follow the state’s rules.” Superintendent John Bell