LEBANON COUNTY – As August slips away and students begin heading back to school, Lebanon County’s six public school districts have released health and safety plans addressing COVID-19.
Each school district decided to take the mask-optional approach, meaning students and staff can wear masks if they choose to but they will not be required to do so. However, the Centers for Disease Control issued an order for masks to be worn, regardless of vaccination status, on all public transportation — including buses operated by private and public-school systems.
None of the school districts will require vaccinations.
Currently, children under the ages of 12 are unable to receive vaccinations. The CDC recommends that all student and staff, whether vaccinated or not, mask up indoors. Pennsylvania’s state departments of Health and Education suggest schools follow the CDC guidelines but have not yet pushed any mandates.
Lancaster General Health Penn Medicine also provided clear local guidance on masking with a recommendation that schools implement universal mask requirements.
All six school districts plan to start the school year, in-person, on Aug. 30.
Lebanon County school districts have provided the following guidelines leading into the school year:
Annville-Cleona School District
The Annville-Cleona school board narrowly approved the district’s 2021-22 health and safety plan at its Aug. 9 meeting with support from only five of the nine board members. According to the plan,the school will encourage but not require masks students and staff in the district. Similarly, the district encourages but does not require vaccinations.
Per federal regulations, the masks are still required on school buses to and from school.
Other safety protocols such as social distancing and at-home screenings will be followed when feasible, according to the plan.
School will be in person five days a week with an online option.
Cornwall-Lebanon School District
At the Cornwall-Lebanon School District’s Aug. 16 meeting, the board voted to make masks optional for students, teachers and staff as part of its 2021-22 health and safety plan. However, according to federal ruling on masked transportation, students will still have to wear face coverings on the bus. Vaccines will not be required.
Additionally, the district will offer a virtual schooling option but not a hybrid schooling option. In-person learning will take place five days a week.
Elco School District
As part of Elco School District’s 2021-22 health and safety plan, the board approved a mask-optional policy. A supply of disposable face coverings will be available in each school building and office, as requested.
The district will continue to follow state regulations for contract tracing and quarantine. Students, staff and visitors are encouraged to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms each day.
Elco will inform the school community on local and regional vaccination opportunities.
Lebanon School District
Lebanon School District also took the mask-optional approach with its 2021-22 health and safety plan, which was approved at the school board’s July 19 meeting. Students and staff will not be required to receive a vaccination, either.
The district will remain open for in-person instruction five days a week. Parents and guardians are asked to screen their students at home prior to the start of each school day. Staff should self-screen, according to the plan.
In a letter to the school community, Lebanon School District expressed that it will make adjustments to its health and safety protocols as needed, according to recommendations from the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Education and Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Northern Lebanon School District
Masks are optional at the Northern Lebanon School District according to its 2021-22 health and safety plan. Any CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health requirements will be monitored by the district and revisions to Northern Lebanon’s safety plan will be communicated to and voted on by the school board.
Information detailing COVID-19 symptoms and steps to take if an individual is experiencing symptoms will be distributed to families and available on the district website.
While the district will not provide or require vaccinations for its students and staff, it will continue to advertise vaccination opportunities.
The board made its last revision to the plan July 9 and approved the content at its July 13 meeting.
Palmyra Area School District
Palmyra Area School District students and staff will mask on a voluntary basis. However, the district will follow the federal mandate that states — regardless of vaccination status — facial coverings must be worn on public transportation including school buses.
In a partnership with Lancaster-Lebanon IU13, has worked to provide vaccinations to staff members and to offer a vaccination site for students on a voluntary basis. Vaccination opportunities within the community have also been shared with students and staff.
The school board unanimously voted to approved the district’s health and safety plan for 2021-22 at its July 15 meeting.
If there are any changes to requirements or guidelines from the Commonwealth of PA or CDC effective after July 30, the district will review the requirements and publicly discuss its plan.