Mask or quarantine; school board says the choice is yours


Chester County Director of Schools Troy Kilzer II sent a letter to Chester County Schools’ stakeholders responding to concerns of learning loss of Chester County students who are identified as school contacts of active C-19 case individuals and current student quarantine procedures that were made during the September 23 CCBOE meeting.
The board met on Friday, October 1 to make a decision on any adjustments to the current quarantine procedures.
The procedural adjustment decided upon states parents whose child/children who are identified as a close contact have the choice to quarantine the student or send them to school. However, the children who continue in-person learning will be required to wear a mask during the quarantine period.
An excerpt of the letter reads: “(NEW PROCEDURES) Parents/Custodial families of potential close student contacts notified will have, if the student is asymptomatic and fever-free, the choice to send the potential close student contact to school for in-person learning or quarantine based on TDH guidelines. School district staff strongly recommend the families of the potential close contact students remain at home during the quarantine period. The parents/custodial families of student(s) choosing to quarantine at home will be counted for attendance as distance learning or an excused absence.”
“(NEW PROCEDURES) Parents/Custodial families of potential close student contacts who choose to send their student(s) to school for in-person learning will require the student(s) to wear face coverings during his/her quarantine period. The school district will continue to follow the TDH quarantine periods.”
“The adjustments above will apply only to those students identified as potential close school contacts. Students who test positive for C-19 and who are identified as household contacts of active C-19 case individuals will be required to quarantine from in-person learning following the TDH guidelines.”
This is all about giving parents a choice, Kilzer said.
“A reminder that the CCBOE’s response is all about parent choice and that, under the revised guidelines, parents have even more choices than they did previously to decide how to respond to C-19 exposure scenarios,” he said. “Most of the correspondence that I received from community stakeholders were concerning the loss of in-person learning for the quarantined students. Again, this revision from the CCBOE provides more consistent in-person learning opportunities.”
Students identified as close contacts who go to school rather than quarantine must wear a mask. This situation does not apply to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 84. This is due to the order stating that parents can opt their child out of ‘mask mandates.’
Kilzer clarified saying that this is an exception to the executive order since it is not a mask mandate for all students.
“This adjustment is not a face-covering mandate but is instead an opportunity for the parent to have their student serve as an exception to the requirement to quarantine at home,” he said. “Since this new revised guidance from the CCBOE does not include a general face-covering mandate for all students, it is not covered under the Governor’s order and thus there is no opt-out provision. It is not mandatory. It is only an exception to the mandatory quarantine period issued by the CDC/TDH that is offered to parents as an option that they can exercise should they so choose.”
These adjustments will become effective upon the return to school on the first school day after Fall Break, Tuesday, October 19.

Below is an update that was not included in the print issue:
After the October 7 edition of the Chester County Independent was printed, Chester County Schools Attorney Christopher Hayden provided us with this statement.
“Upon my analysis of applicable law and regulation, including Governor Lee’s executive order, I believe this is a sound legal approach to provide Chester County parents additional options to keep their kids physically in school while obeying all applicable laws and regulations and taking all reasonable precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Hayden said. “The Chester County BOE has not adopted a face covering mandate. This new procedure that you reference is only a narrow exception to the quarantine procedure that has been followed and that was adopted by the BOE after much deliberation and input from community stakeholders as a way to keep students physically in school as much as possible. Instead of being mandatory, its compliance is completely voluntary in that, if a student is identified as a close contact per CDC/TDH guidance and that student does not wish to wear a face covering at school, that child can continue to quarantine away from school during the quarantine period as has been done up until this revision takes effect.”