Dear BASD Families:
I hope that your children are having a great start to the school year. Last week I was excited to see so much enthusiasm as our students returned to school. Hopefully, that excitement and enthusiasm will carry us through some of the challenges we are facing.
We all wanted a normal school year for this year, but right now, we are pretty far away from normal. My hope is this communication will provide you an update on a variety of items and our plans moving forward.
Governor Wolf announced that masks will be required at school beginning on Tuesday, September 7, pursuant to an Order issued by the Secretary of Health. This is a mandate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and therefore, we must follow it. Our Solicitor has reviewed the order and has advised us that the school district is required to follow the mandate until it is rescinded or an injunction is issued by a Court.
Please note the school district filed a lawsuit last school year against the Governor, Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Education regarding local control. That litigation is still active. I have already received questions regarding the lawsuit. Please know that any public comment regarding litigation involving the school district would come from the solicitor. I have no updates to share at this time.
Beginning on September 7, all students, staff and school visitors must wear a mask while on school property, unless one of the exemptions listed in the Order applies to the individual.
Click to view the Order for this mandate.
Click to view the FAQ for this Order.
I have been asked what will happen if a student is not wearing a mask. Based on the Order, that depends. There are exclusions in the Order that allow individuals who meet certain criteria to attend school without wearing a mask. If a student meets the exclusion criteria and provides the appropriate documentation, they will be permitted to attend school without wearing a mask. All exemption forms should be submitted to the main office of your child’s school.
Click to access the BASD Mask Exemption Form.
If a student does not meet the mask exclusion criteria, the following will occur if they are in school without a mask:
The student will be asked to wear a mask. If they have forgotten their mask, we will provide one.
If the student refuses to wear a mask, they will be sent to the principal's office.
The principal or assistant principal will call the student’s parent/guardian.
A. If the parent/guardian directs the student to wear a mask and the student refuses, the principal and parent/guardian will discuss what will be the appropriate next step.
B. If the parent/guardian indicates that they are directing the student not to comply with the masking order, the student will be sent to class and the school district will notify the Pennsylvania Department of Health of the non compliance.
I recognize that masking is a very divisive issue in our community, our schools, and our nation. Our job is to educate all of our students, regardless of individual beliefs. We are committed to building positive relationships with our students to help each of them achieve success. I encourage everyone to be respectful of each other.
I have tried to find the middle ground in respecting individuals' rights to choose what is best for their children while also trying to provide resources to those who would like additional protection.
As I previously shared, the district has KN95 masks for those who wish to have one. If you would like your child to have a KN95, please request it by completing the survey for your child’s school
Click to complete the KN95 request survey.
We also have paper disposal masks that are readily available in all schools without a request.
If you would like to advocate your position regarding the mask mandate, please reach out to your local legislator, the Pennsylvania Department of Health or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Click to find your legislator.
Click to contact the PA Department of Health.
Click to contact PA Department of Education.
We continue to be short on bus drivers. At times this is worse due to bus drivers calling off, which seems to happen more often in the afternoons. Therefore, we will be prioritizing some of our longer bus runs leaving the secondary schools sooner. We may even need to develop an earlier tier of bus departures from our secondary schools. We will keep you posted if this impacts your child. In addition, we will be modifying some of our elementary dismissal procedures.
I have also asked our Transportation Department to develop a rotation as to which busses will be running late due to driver shortages so that it’s not always the same students who are riding a delayed bus. I have also requested that when possible, a notification be sent to parents and guardians around lunchtime. My hope is that an earlier message will give parents/guardians enough time to pick their child up at school if they are willing and able to do so.
The good news is that Valley Lines informed us they are training a few new bus drivers to help accommodate our routes.
K-4 Elementary Dismissal Procedures
We have many more parent pick ups this year. We appreciate it - thank you! However, this is causing a slower dismissal process for parent pick up and school busses. Therefore, at some of our K-4 elementary schools, it has become necessary to stagger our dismissal procedures. Our principals will be communicating specific information to the parents/guardians, but in short, parent pick up will be occurring a bit earlier. It will begin before the school bus dismissal. This will hopefully allow us to dismiss and deliver students home in a more timely manner.
If you are picking up your child at school, please be mindful of non school traffic and private property adjacent to our schools.
Secondary Open House
Both the Intermediate High School and Senior High School Open Houses will be virtual this year. The building principals will be sending details directly to IHS and SHS families.
Quarantining Guidelines and Help
One of the most frustrating things for all involved is the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s mandate for quarantining. We do not have the option of modifying these guidelines. It is critical that if your child is ill or possibly ill, you keep them home from school. Feel free to call the school nurse or call your healthcare provider for guidance.
We had to quarantine students this week because children who were ill came to school. This is a magnified issue when an ill child rides the school bus. I know it is extremely disruptive to have a sick child stay home, but when a symptomatic child is sent to school, it causes others to have to quarantine, which is not fair for all involved.
We also are seeing many of our positive cases and quarantines starting in after school activities and athletics. We will be reminding students to take proactive steps in these settings to prevent the spread of COVID.
We are actively engaged with our secondary principals, department chairs and the Butler Education Association to develop more robust instructional services for students who must quarantine. We hope to have guidelines in place by Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
I hope this information is helpful. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we continue to work together to make this a successful school year for our students.
Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Butler Area School District