FAQs for the 2021-2022 School Year

Last updated 1.18.22

We understand that parents/guardians may have questions regarding the 2021-2022 school year. The list below includes frequently asked questions. We will continue to update this list as we receive additional guidance from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education.  

If there are questions you would still like to have the District consider after you review the information below, please CLICK HERE to submit your suggestions.

Q 1 – If a student is not fully vaccinated and is quarantined due to being a close contact but does not want to wear a mask when they are able to return to school, do they have the option to quarantine the full 10 days at home instead?
A – Yes, if the parent would like to keep the child home for the full 10 days, he/she has that option as well.

Q 2 – If I have a child awaiting test results, can my other children still attend school if they do not have any symptoms and aren’t sick?
A – Yes, they may attend school but should be monitored closely for symptoms. If the first child tests positive, the other children would be recommended for quarantine.

Q 3 – How will the masked positive students be separated for lunch, and who will be monitoring their mask wearing?
A – Students will continue to be spread out during lunchtime, or will be separated through the use of the plexiglass dividers, depending upon the building cafeteria set-up.

Q 4 – Please clarify “not feasible” for the quarantine. What if the student has already had COVID and has the antibodies?
A – Quarantining continues to be a recommendation from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If following the 5 days of quarantining causes additional hardship, the close contact can choose to wear a mask for the 10 days after exposure instead of 5 days of quarantine and 5 days of mask wearing.

Q 5 – Are you going to enforce the wearing of masks for individuals who fall in the stated categories?
A – Masks for those who tested positive and return to school after 5 days of isolation will be a condition of return and will be enforced. COVID positive individuals continue to have the option of isolating for 10 days. Masks and quarantine days for those identified as close contacts remain a recommendation.

Q 6 – Why do asymptomatic individuals identified as close contacts who are not vaccinated need to quarantine while vaccinated individuals do not?
A – According to the CDC, close contacts who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic do not have to quarantine. They are recommended to closely monitor for symptoms.

Q 7 – Will a student be able to live-stream classes if he/she is required to isolate or quarantine?
A – This year we do not have the live-stream option. We do, however, still have the cameras and technology that will be used to connect students who are quarantined or isolated due to COVID.  The use of the cameras and technology will be up to the classroom teacher and will depend upon several factors like, age of students, content topic, and activities of the lessons missed.

Q 8 – How is the school district handling vaccinated vs. unvaccinated faculty/staff and students?
A – The school district is not keeping a record of vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals. The only time vaccination status may come up is when someone is identified as a close contact. Vaccinated individuals who have no symptoms do not have to quarantine.

Q 9 – If there is a huge outbreak, will there be any switch to remote learning?
A – We are hopeful that we can stay the course of offering learning modes that fit the needs of the student/family in a manner similar to last year. Any switch to remote learning for all would be a last resort response to an outbreak and done in close communication with stakeholders.

Q 10 – Are vaccine requirements in the future for Ephrata?
A – No, not in the foreseeable future. Our only role is to pass on information that we receive about vaccinations for those who are interested.

Q 11 – What parameters will be put in place to ensure that mask shaming does not occur if a student chooses to wear masks for their own safety and peace of mind?
A – All students will be supported in the mask decision that they make individually. Any bullying related to masks will be handled in the same way other forms of bullying are handled and should be reported to a teacher or school administrator.

Q 12 – Will a student who is vaccinated need to quarantine if he/she is identified as a close-contact?
A – No; If a child is fully vaccinated (can verify) and is showing no symptoms then he/she will not be forced to quarantine.

Q 13 – If a child or teacher suddenly begins to show mild symptoms while in class, what would be the recommended action to take?
A – If a child or a teacher is reporting symptoms, the recommended course of action would be for a school nurse to evaluate him/her and then recommend the next steps.

Q 14 – If the number of allowed students who test positive in a building is reached, will virtual classes be held? 
A – Yes. On the District COVID Dashboard, the number of COVID cases has been identified that, if reached, would identify a school for possible closure of in-person instruction.

Q 15 – Do I need to report a COVID+ test result to the school?
A – Yes, COVID+ individuals are expected to let the school know of the diagnosis.

Q 16 – How will parents and the community be informed of the COVID case count in District buildings?
A – The COVID Dashboard with up-to-date case counts will continue to be maintained on the District website.

Q 17 – What information was used to inform the Health and Safety Plan, specifically for masking and social distancing?
A – We considered guidance from the CDC and recommendations from the PA Department of Health, along with parent feedback to develop our plan in the areas relating to masks and social distance.

Q 18 – During the school year, will “social distancing” still be required?
A – Maintaining an appropriate level of social-distance continues to be a priority of the District. The goal of 3 feet of social distance is the goal for all classroom activities.

Q 19 – How are you going to protect children under 12 if you’re not requiring masks?
A – Masks are optional for all students. Other mitigation strategies, including social distancing, increased airflow, elevated cleaning protocols, hand washing, and sanitation routines, will work together to protect all students, staff, and visitors within our learning environments.

Q 20 – Will masks be required on buses to/from school?
A – The message emailed to all District families on August 3 included the following statement:  This communication serves to inform all parents/guardians of the CDC order and the expectation that students are to wear masks while passengers on school buses. The District is encouraging voluntary compliance with the CDC Order, but it will not deny school transportation services or impose disciplinary measures upon students for non-compliance with the CDC mask order. Disposable masks will be made available to students on all school buses, if desired. Our interest continues to be on having our bus drivers focus on safely driving our buses.

Q 21 – Will the school be requiring/conducting any COVID testing?
A – We have no plans of conducting any testing at this point.