Pottsgrove: Masks Generally Needed Until Last Day

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – To mask, or not to mask?

Last week’s announcement by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which allows fully vaccinated people to end wearing coronavirus-protective masks in most public settings, left parents of school students and others confused about what to wear and when. Some people are fully vaccinated, some partially, some not at all, they worry. Who can tell the difference?

The Pottsgrove School District’s chief administrator tried Sunday (May 16, 2021) to offer clearer direction. In most district-related circumstances – whether individuals are fully vaccinated or not, district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk wrote in a letter e-mailed to school families – all students and adults will be required to wear masks until June 11 (Friday), Pottsgrove’s last day of school.

That guidance complies with recommendations made Friday (May 14) by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Shirk added. The department apparently prefers to err on the side of caution.

“Because most K-12 students in Pennsylvania are not vaccinated, and only a few weeks remain in the 2020-21 school year, PDE recommends school entities continue to follow their current mitigation strategies,” Shirk reported in an “official notification” of the district’s intent to stick with its current Health and Safety Plan.

That may not be the case elsewhere, Shirk admitted.

The state Department of Health, the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, and some superintendents of other districts within the county indicated they would accept the CDC’s latest suggestion and permit unmasking among those who have received all vaccine doses.

Pottsgrove won’t. “Masks are still required for all indoor recess periods by students and staff members,” Shirk wrote, except in special situations already approved during the Board of School Directors’ May 11 meeting. They are, he repeated:

  • “During outdoor recess, students may forgo wearing masks outside. However, all students must continue to wear masks walking to and from recess periods;
  • All adults monitoring outdoor recess periods must continue to wear masks;
  • Outdoor physical education classes are permitted to remove their masks during physical activities. Masks are to be worn walking to and from the buildings. Outdoor activities include, but (are) not limited to, recess, field days, intramurals, graduation ceremonies, and other outdoor activities where social distancing is applicable;
  • During PIAA athletic practices and competitions, athletes do not need to wear masks while actively engaged in physical activity; and
  • All athletes and coaching staffs must wear masks on the sidelines before, during, and after competitions.

In all other circumstances, mask up … and thanks, Shirk added. “Again, I am grateful for the support of the Pottsgrove community … and patience that we have all experienced these past (14) months.”

Photo by Luiza Braun via Unsplash, used under license