Report by Paula Antolini, August 15, 2021, 4:43PM EDT
Regarding face coverings or masks in school or on school property, the Board of Education policy 5141.8 protocols states that:
“Compliance with these protocols shall be mandatory for all individuals while in a school building, District facility and/or District transportation vehicle, unless an applicable exception applies.”
There are measures the school will take if students, staff or members of the community do not comply:
“Any individual who refuses to wear an appropriate face covering at all times while in a school building, District facility or District transportation vehicle shall be denied admission and/or required to leave the premises, unless an applicable exception applies. In addition, failure to comply with these protocols may lead to disciplinary action for students and staff, and exclusion from school property for members of the community, in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations, and/or Board policies.”
Read full policy below:
In accordance with requirements and guidelines issued by the Connecticut State Department of Education (“SDE”), the Bethel Public Schools (“District”) requires that all individuals entering a school building, a District facility, or a District transportation vehicle wear an appropriate face covering. An appropriate face covering shall consist of a cloth mask or disposable procedure-style mask that completely covers the individual’s nose and mouth. Any individual who presents for entrance into a school building, District facility or District transportation vehicle who is not wearing an appropriate face covering shall be provided an appropriate face covering by the District.
Compliance with these protocols shall be mandatory for all individuals while in a school building, District facility and/or District transportation vehicle, unless an applicable exception applies. Any individual who refuses to wear an appropriate face covering at all times while in a school building, District facility or District transportation vehicle shall be denied admission and/or required to leave the premises, unless an applicable exception applies. In addition, failure to comply with these protocols may lead to disciplinary action for students and staff, and exclusion from school property for members of the community, in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations, and/or Board policies.
All individuals participating in or attending any school-sponsored activities must wear an appropriate face covering, whether or not those activities occur in a school building, District facility or District transportation vehicle, unless an applicable exception applies or the Administration, in consultation with the local health department, determines that face coverings are not required for athletes participating in certain athletic activities.
Students and all individuals being transported on District transportation vehicles are required to wear appropriate face coverings (face coverings must be worn prior to boarding and while exiting the vehicle), in accordance with the District’s Transportation Protocols. Please see below for additional procedures for face covering exemption requirements.
Students, staff and all individuals inside school buildings and District facilities are required to wear appropriate face coverings except if: (i) the individual cannot wear the face covering because the individual has difficulty breathing, is unconscious, or incapacitated; (ii) the individual cannot remove the face covering without assistance; (iii) the individual has a documented medical reason making it unsafe to wear a mask; (iv) the student is under the age of three (3); or (v) the individual has a disability that causes the individual to be unable to wear a face covering.
Important Note: The need for a medical exemption for the wearing of face coverings of the styles recommended for use in schools for source control is rare. Medical contraindications to the wearing of cloth or other similar loose fitting masks generally are limited to individuals suffering from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as might be seen with cystic fibrosis, severe emphysema, heart failure, or significant facial burns that would cause extreme pain or interfere with the healing of a skin graft. These severe medical conditions will be rare in students or staff capable of presenting to the school for work or instruction (in most cases these individuals would not be able to move about freely without significant assistance). In addition, for anyone suffering from any of these underlying conditions, the strong recommendation would be for that person to remain at home and engage in fully virtual learning due to their risk of developing severe complications if they did become infected with COVID-19. Mild or intermittent respiratory or other common conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, or other similar conditions generally are not considered contraindications to the wearing of loose-fitting face coverings.
• Face coverings may only be removed within the school building for the following reasons: (i) eating/drinking; (ii) on school grounds with appropriate social distancing implemented; and (iii) educational or medical activities requiring removal of masks (speech and language, evaluations, etc.) ONLY under circumstances when the school has implemented appropriate and District-approved mitigating measures (such as gowns, face shields, additional social distancing, physical barriers for District employees and/or students).
• For preschool students only, face coverings may also be removed or not worn (as applicable) under the following circumstances: (i) students are sleeping or resting, when the distance between students is maximized, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance wherever possible when face coverings are removed; (ii) a student is newly enrolled within the past two (2) months and is working toward consistent wearing of a face covering; (iii) a student has just turned three (3) years old, in which case such student may have up to two (2) months to acclimate to wearing a face covering and support developmental readiness; and/or (iv) during outdoor activities.
• If a student claims a medical or disability-related exemption from wearing a face covering, the District shall follow the Decision Tree – Face Covering Exemptions in these Protocols. If the District determines the request is based on medical need, the parent or guardian and the student’s treating physician must complete the Face Covering Exemption Request Form. The Request form then must be submitted to our District Health Coordinator, who will submit it to our district’s medical advisor for final approval. If the District determines the request is based on disability (skill deficit), the District shall promptly convene a Planning and Placement Team (“PPT”) Meeting or Section 504 Team meeting as appropriate to discuss and consider necessary programming revisions, accommodations, modifications, etc.
• If a staff member claims a medical or disability-related exemption from wearing a face covering, the District shall comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and requirements regarding the evaluation of, and response to, any such claim.
• Students shall be offered face covering breaks during the school day as determined appropriate by the Administration. A face covering break consists of the student removing the face covering from the student’s own nose and mouth for a short period of time. Generally, face covering breaks are when students are eating, drinking or outside.
• The Administration and school employees shall initially address student non-compliance with these protocols through the use of verbal reminders and other less restrictive means of supporting compliance with the use of face coverings. Student discipline may be imposed, in accordance with Board policies, in situations when less restrictive means are not effective and no exception to the wearing of a face covering applies. A preschool student shall not be excluded from the program or isolated from the student’s peers due to the student’s non-compliance with the face covering requirements.
• The Administration shall communicate individually with parents/guardians who refuse to permit their child(ren) to wear an appropriate face covering to discuss the parents’/guardians’ concerns, review the requirements issued by the Connecticut State Department of Education and Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, and/or discuss whether an exception to the face covering requirement may apply to their child(ren) and the appropriate process to obtain such exception.
Temporary Regulation: 9/30/20
BETHEL PUBLIC SCHOOLS