For additional information, contact: Lorie Pearce, Executive Assistant to BOE/Supt at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 7, 2021
Park City School District and our individual schools all work in support of our students and families in providing academic, social, emotional, and behavioral support. Parents are our children’s primary educators and the primary decision makers in the care of their children. This was emphasized by the Utah legislature when it prohibited schools and school districts from independently implementing mask mandates after the end of the 2020-21 school year. Rather, the legislature clarified that school mask mandates should be enacted at the local health department level, and subject to the approval of county officials, not school officials.
On September 23, 2021, Summit County officials approved a narrowly tailored Public Health Order (Order of Constraint) addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Summit County schools. That Order of Constraint set a 2% caseload over a 14-day period to identify the threshold trigger when masks are required in the school setting for an individual campus. (https://www.summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/17028/092321-Order-of-Constraint-2021-02-Face-Coverings-in-Middle-Schools)
Throughout the pandemic, Park City School District has worked hand-in-hand with the Summit County Health Department to monitor case counts in our schools. As case counts at Parley’s Park Elementary School approached the 2% threshold trigger at the end of October, our PPES communication to families prepared them for, and then affirmed, implementation of a mask mandate from November 1-14, 2021.
• On Friday, October 29, 2021, the PPES principal sent a message to families alerting them that positive cases of COVID-19 had been increasing at the site and that families would be notified in the event a mask mandate would be put into effect.
• On Sunday, October 31, 2021, PPES reached the 2% threshold of positive COVID-19 cases (14), as confirmed by SCHD and verified by the Utah Department of Health definition of a positive case, thereby triggering the Order of Constraint.
• Communication was sent to all PPES families that a mask mandate would be put into place at the school from November 1 – November 14, 2021.
PCSD recognizes the County’s Order of Constraint as a valid, legally binding public health order and mask mandate for all PCSD employees and students at Parley’s Park Elementary School. It is the expectation of PCSD that all students and staff will comply with that mandate, subject to those exemptions set forth within the Order itself. Understanding that there may be allowable exemptions is where the terminology “parental choice” originated in my conversation with our PPES school principal and it was my error to not slow down and clearly state “understanding that there are allowable exemptions in each of our school sites.”
On November 14, 2021, the case counts for the previous 14 days will be reviewed by the SCHD/UDOH. If the school is under threshold counts, the mask mandate is concluded. In the event the school has had high case counts, the mandate may be extended another 14 days by the SCHD.
In the event that a school site hits 30 positive cases in a 14-day period, that triggers a Test-To- Stay event in order to further contain and mitigate the spread of contagious illness.
How Will the Mask Mandate Be Implemented at PPES?
To mitigate continued spread of COVID-19 in our schools, it is important to adhere to the County’s mask mandate. Just like we did last year when school mask mandates were in effect, Parley’s Park Elementary School will remind its students and staff to put on and wear their required face mask appropriately if they are found to not be wearing it. If additional reminders are required, or if a student is repeatedly not complying or adhering to teacher direction, there may be escalating consequences including school discipline. While violation of an Order of Constraint is a misdemeanor criminal offense, the Order itself states that it is intended to protect public health and not to hold individuals criminally liable. While PCSD does not intend to initiate criminal referrals, Summit County may inspect our schools at any time and does have the authority and discretion to cite and prosecute individuals who violate the Order. The County’s Order of Constraint may be enforced in any of the following ways in our schools:
• Inform families about the Order and its requirements.
• Model appropriate face coverings within the school setting – including extracurriculars.
• Remind students that they must wear a face covering to be in compliance with the Order.
• Ensure that face coverings are available for anyone who might have forgotten to bring one.
• Redirect a student seat assignment if they are non-compliant with the face covering mandate.
• Remind students to wear their face covering.
• Contact parent/school administration if a student is not adhering to teacher direction.
• Possible referral to in-school suspension room to facilitate continued access to in-person learning.
• Contact parent to pick up student from school (as with other disruptive behaviors we prefer NOT to remove a student from a learning environment if at all possible due to the importance of access to education).
What is not permitted in connection with the mask mandate?
• Physically placing a face covering on a student.
• Issuing a disciplinary consequence for students or staff with a mask exemption.
• Teasing, taunting, bullying, harassment, or other abusive conduct over wearing or not wearing a face covering – the Order of Constraint contains valid exemptions, which must be respected.
Obtaining the voluntary compliance of our students and employees with the Order of Constraint is the most effective manner for the school to enforce this important effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
As a school district, we will proactively hit the reset button to ensure important information is conveyed, review all COVID-19 mitigation protocols with all staff, and facilitate effective implementation of the Order of Constraint as an additional layer of mitigation in support of our students, staff, and families.
Dr. Jill Gildea
Superintendent of Schools
Park City School District