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October 25, 2020

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Ada school board will require face coverings when school opens

There are six exceptions to this policy

The following is part of a 13-page Ada schools reopening plan for fall of 2020. The entire policy is on the school website and may be viewed by clicking here.

The Board adopts this policy requiring face coverings to comply with state requirements and recommendations to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The current consensus among public health experts is that face coverings are a preventative measure that can reduce the spread of COVID-19, when used along with other preventative measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. 

All school employees and volunteers (including contractors) shall wear a face covering while working or present in any school building, facility or other area of a school campus, or while operating or present in any school owned vehicle with more than one person in the vehicle (including, but not limited to, buses and vans). 

Exceptions include when: 

Face coverings in the school setting are prohibited by law or regulation.

Face coverings are in violation of documented industry standards.

Face coverings are not advisable for health reasons (such as a documented medical breathing issue).

 Face coverings are in violation of the school’s documented safety policies.

Face coverings are not required when the staff works alone in an assigned work area.

There is a functional (practical) reason for a staff member or volunteer to not to wear a face covering in the workplace. 

Requests explaining why a staff member is not required to wear a face covering must be directed to a building administrator and exemptions must be in writing. 

School nurses or staff who care for individuals with symptoms must use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), provided by the school. 

Students will wear face coverings in accordance with the Ada Reopening Plan to the extent determined by the county COVID warning level, or when there is a statewide mask mandate.

Students grades 3-12 shall wear face coverings at all times when mandated by Ada Restart plan, except for the following: 

Students may be exempted from this policy due to documented medical, developmental, behavioral or individualized needs. Requests for exemptions should be in writing and directed to a building administrator who may convene the student’s IEP team, 504 team or review the student’s health plan. Face shields may be considered as an alternative.

During a statewide masking mandate, students and staff will also be exempt per the state order for the following reasons:

When eating and drinking, when actively exercising or practicing a sport.

Students participating in athletics shall be subject to the current Ohio Department of Health orders and OHSAA regulations regarding use of face coverings. 

School visitors must wear a face covering in any school building or facility, including waiting outside school buildings before and after school. Face coverings are not required for: 

Children younger than 2 years old.

Anyone with a documented medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering (such as a documented medical breathing issue).

Anyone who otherwise has trouble breathing.

Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance. 

Staff are required to have a face covering with them at all times. Staff will be provided with a face shield and face mask upon request.

Students should wear their own face covering or one will be provided for them.

Individuals may remove their face covering when eating or drinking.

Face masks should be cloth/fabric and cannot be made of mesh or cloth/fabric that is transparent (with the exception of plastic components of a cloth/fabric face covering that allow for viewing a person’s mouth and face shields). Disposable masks may be worn when cloth masks are unavailable.  Face masks must cover an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin.

 Face masks are not required outside when individuals are able to maintain a social distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.

 Individuals should wash/disinfect their hands before putting on a face covering. The face masks should fit snugly against the side of an individual’s face. Face masks should not create any difficulty breathing while worn and should be secured by a tie or elastic to prevent movement.

 All face masks must be appropriate for the school setting and comply with applicable dress codes. Face masks that contain offensive words or images or that may substantially disrupt the educational process are prohibited. Face masks that are part of costumes or cover the entire face are not appropriate, with the exception of face shields. Face masks for staff shall comply with policies and guidelines on staff dress and grooming. Face masks for students shall comply with policies and handbook provisions concerning the student dress code.

Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. Employees who have an operational need to use respirators will be provided that equipment and training on how to use it.

Face shields that wrap around the face and extend below the chin may be considered as an alternative where face masks would hinder the learning process. Some situations where face shields may be used include: 

When interacting with students, such as those with disabilities, where communication could be impacted.

When interacting with English-language learners or when teaching a foreign language.

Settings where cloth face coverings might present a safety hazard (i.e. science labs).

For individuals who have difficulty wearing a cloth face covering. 

When teachers are providing whole class instruction and maintaining a minimum of 6 foot distance (used for better understanding by the students - e.g. see movement of mouth, facial expressions important in the learning process)

The District will provide training to staff and students on this policy and the use and care of face coverings along with other preventative measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. 

This policy is adopted on an interim and temporary basis consistent with current legal requirements and recommendations. In the event legal requirements and/or recommendations change, the Superintendent is authorized to align the requirements in accordance with current requirements and recommendations.