VIDEO: Dr. Sarah Pelangka, BCBA-D, on Mask Mandates in School
In this short video, Dr. Sarah Pelangka, BCBA-D, special education advocate and owner of KnowIEPs, breaks down mask mandates in schools, including the following points:
- Masks must be worn by students and staff while indoors at school; they are optional outdoors.
- Those who are exempt are any student under two years old, anyone with a mental health diagnosis and/or medical diagnosis or disability where wearing a mask in school prevents them from being safe or successful, and those who may be hearing impaired (if wearing a mask prevents them from being able to communicate).
- Parents can no longer write letters to exempt their children from wearing masks; notes have to be written by a medical professional and must include the reason they can't wear a mask and whether they can wear an alternative, like a face shield with a drape.
- There isn't clear guidance regarding children who are unable to wear anything on their face. It sems to be left up to the districts as to what they will allow on campus. Examples include offering independent study for those who can’t wear a mask, providing additional protective equipment for staff who are in the room with the child, putting a plastic barrier around the child's desk, and using mask desensitization programs.
- If a student or staff member contracts Covid at school and gets severely ill or passes away, the school is at risk for a civil lawsuit; parents of Special Education students are filing civil suits against states that aren’t requiring masks because this is putting immunocompromised students at risk.