When: Ephrata Area school board meeting, Sept. 13.
What happened: About two dozen district parents used the opportunity to speak at the board’s committee of the whole meeting, the majority of parents not wearing masks. At least 150 members of the public attended the meeting. Several speakers asked the board to go against the mask order issued by the state Department of Health and expressed frustration about exemption forms having to be verified by a medical provider in order to be valid.
Why it’s important: Only students who have submitted both a medical exemption form and verification from their medical care provider will be permitted to attend in-person school without wearing a facial covering starting Sept. 20.
Background: The district’s grace period for transitioning to masks ends this week, and Sept. 17 is the deadline to submit information from a medical care provider, who has seen and treated individuals related to why a mask would not be medically appropriate for them. So far the district administration has received many generic forms that do not meet the requirements. Several members of the public mentioned how hard it is to get doctors to verify and approve exemption forms.
Quotable: ”Doctors in this county will not sign off on an exempt form,” Ephrata parent Lauren Musser said.
Board discussion: During a discussion, Superintendent Brian Troop informed the board that the school administration has received three to four approved exemption forms so far. Board President Richard Gehman asked if the administration has insight on why the forms seem to be dismissed by county doctors and medical providers. “I do think it’s a higher bar for doctors to sign an exemption form than what parents anticipated,” Troop said.
Other news: Business Manager Kristee Reichard informed the board that the district is experiencing food distribution and manufacturing issues due to labor shortages. As of now, there are enough food options to feed students for four to six weeks. The district is also experiencing shortages of bus drivers. They have, however, added some transportation contracts since the beginning of the school year.
What’s next: Ephrata Area school board will meet again Sept. 27.
— Melissa Frost,
For LNP | LancasterOnline