Q: Is the SWCSD PK-6 masking practice discriminatory against students? Isn't this non-compliant with HB244?
A: No, HB244 is specific to vaccinations. HB 244 language is specific to the “individual” and uses the word “differentiate.” SWCSD PK-6 students are universally masked and masks for students in grades 7-12 are universally recommended, not required. Close contacts are treated universally as well. Therefore, our masking policies are not in question as a result of this law.
Q: What is a direct (close) contact?
A: Direct contacts for COVID-19 are those individuals who are identified as being directly exposed to COVID-19 by the positive case. Remember, COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and does not require physical contact to spread. It is spread through sneezing, coughing, talking, and breathing. These factors should be considered when determining level of exposure and direct contacts. Best practice for distancing is 3 ft with everyone masked, 6 ft if the individual is not masked.
~Ohio Department of Health 10/25/2021
Q: Does the district offer mask-only classrooms at the middle and high schools?
A: Based on course offerings and the individual academic needs of students, this is not a practical option. The layered protocols we have in place, which include a strong recommendation for mask-wearing and physical distancing, significantly reduce risk and the possible need to quarantine without compromising academic options. As circumstances and beliefs change, so might a student or parent’s decision to wear a mask in a mask-friendly environment.
Q: What does it mean to have 'mask breaks' at recess?
A: We follow CDC guidelines and do allow students to remove their masks at recess, but ask them to keep their masks on when they are in close proximity with other students. The CDC guidelines include:
Recess is considered an extension of the classroom environment. Maintain the protocols for 3 feet social distance outside (with a goal of 6 feet) when students are at play in groups and/or in close contact.
Mask breaks are appropriate when controlled and social distance can be maintained.
When students are taking masks off at recess, it is important that there is a procedure in place to maintain social distance outside during the school day to the greatest extent possible. Stated simply, recess cannot be a 'free for all' with no masks for the safety of our students.
If you have questions, please contact your child's building principal for further clarification.
Q: Why is SWCSD not offering VLA this school year?
A: Last year, SWCSD provided the Virtual Learning Academy for approximately 2,365 students. We were given permission to offer this option as a result of House Bill 164, which gave public school districts in the State of Ohio the flexibility to offer a fully online school experience as an emergency measure. HB 164 expired and as a result, we do not have the ability to offer this option to our students and families in the same manner as last school year. Additionally, HB 110 went into effect this school year and created stronger restrictions that push schools towards in-person/traditional modes of instruction five days per week.
In addition, as a collective, our students choosing the virtual option last school year did not perform as well on state assessments and classroom grades. Creating this option also resulted in limiting curricular options for many students.
Q: If the district isn’t offering VLA this school year, what are my options?
A: The Ohio Department of Education provides various school options at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Ohio-Education-Options.
Q: What does the school board resolution authorizing the superintendent to require face coverings for students, staff, and visitors accomplish? Has the board of education given away its authority?
A: The resolution allows the superintendent to enforce and quickly pivot based on circumstances to prevent the spread of communicable diseases for the safety of students and staff. The board has the ability to rescind, revise, or override decisions at any time.
Q: Is the district using sneeze guards on desks or lunch tables?
A: Sneeze guards (individual plastic dividers) are available for use in each building.
Q: How will the learning process be supported when a student is quarantined?
A: Schoolwork will be treated as it has always been treated for any type of multi-day excused absence. The teacher should be able to provide students with content/assignments to stay current with their work.
Q: What mask exemptions are available to parents?
A: There are two types of exemptions available to parents. These are the same exemptions that were in place last school year.
To request a religious exemption, parents may submit a written request for accommodations or exemptions based on sincerely held religious beliefs to Amber Hufford (email@example.com) and Dr. Jamie Lusher (firstname.lastname@example.org) for review and vetting. These requests should include the reason for the accommodation, contact information for the church, and religious entity. These requests will be reviewed and vetted as they are received.
To request a medical waiver for the mask requirement, parents should submit a request that includes medical documentation and their physician's contact information to Amber Hufford (email@example.com) and Dr. Jamie Lusher (firstname.lastname@example.org). This will start the medical exemption process.
Q: Does the district intend to require COVID vaccinations for students or staff?
A: The district strongly encourages eligible individuals to get vaccinated. At this time, we are not requiring a COVID vaccination to attend or work in our schools.
Q: Are latchkey children required to wear masks?
A: These programs are not held during school hours and are voluntary. They are also not SWCSD programs and are subject to the sponsoring latchkey organization's protocols and procedures.
Q: Can I select a vaccinated teacher for my child?
A: We are prohibited from sharing the vaccine status of students and staff due to FERPA and HIPAA regulations.
Q: Isn’t the requirement for students in grades PK-6 discriminating against those who cannot receive the vaccine (HB244)?
A: As a public school district in the state of Ohio, we have a compelling state interest in health and safety and the prevention of infectious disease. Currently, there is a federal mandate from the Centers for Disease Control that requires all persons to wear face masks on any mass transportations, including school buses (https://www.cdc.gov/). The board resolution authorizing the Superintendent to require facial coverings is grounded by Ohio Revised Code Section 3313.67.
From August 20:
Q: What changed and why are masks only required for students in grades PreK-6? What is the threshold to allow students in grades PreK-6 the option of wearing masks? Could the requirement be extended to middle and high school students.?
A: Our goal is to provide in-person instruction five days a week to the greatest number of students possible. As community conditions and the conditions within the school
district change, we may also need to make adjustments to help achieve this goal. We use several pieces of data in the decision-making process.
The proportion of COVID-19 cases in school-aged children in SWCSD
COVID-19 Analytics and Targeted Surveillance (CATS) data as it is available
Other data deemed relevant by local, state, and federal health agencies