With the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, upholding the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania’s ruling to void Pennsylvania Department of Health’s school mask order, and Mars Area School District reverting back to voluntary mask use, the District will be modifying its quarantining process effective Wednesday, Jan. 12.
As mask use is voluntary and with the current surge in reported cases of COVID-19, the District has experienced a significant increase in the number of healthy students, who are identified as close contacts and are required to quarantine. In an effort to reduce these numbers, the District will permit students, who are identified as close contacts and who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, to remain in school for in-person learning.
The District will continue to conduct contact tracing and will notify all close contacts by phone and/or by e-mail. However, as long as they remain symptom free, close contacts will have the option to remain in school or to quarantine at home for five (5) days. Parents/guardians, who elect to have their child quarantined, even though they are symptom free, are asked to contact their child’s building principal.
Any students, who are required to quarantine, will need to shift to Live-Stream Interactive (LSI) Instruction, through which teachers will facilitate instruction on a period-by-period basis. Each teacher has established an “LSI” link on his/her Schoology page, where students are able to access assignments. Any student, who is unable to access school remotely, is asked to notify his/her building principal as soon as possible.
The District will instruct all students, who are identified as close contacts, to monitor for any symptoms and to obtain a COVID-19 test with 5-7 days of the initial date of exposure. As per District procedures, anyone who is exhibiting any symptoms or who tests positive for COVID-19, will be required to stay home and quarantine. The flowchart (below) further illustrates these updated protocols.
Mars Area School District follows National Association of School Nurses (NASN) guidelines, which we encourage all parents/guardians to consider when deciding whether or not to keep a child, who are exhibiting symptoms of any illness, home from school. Any students, who are not well enough to participate in school, either in-person or via LSI Instruction, may take a Sick Day, which will be considered an excused absence.
Please be reminded that COVID-19 cases and transmission rates remain high in our region and although mask use remains voluntary; and, while it is not required, students and parents/guardians are encouraged to wear an appropriate face covering and to practice proper social distancing, wherever possible.
Current conditions as well as District’s protocols are continuously under review and subject to change at any time; therefore, we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we remain committed to ensuring that a safe, happy, and healthy educational experience is in place for all of our District students and families.
Dr. Mark Gross