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Choose the Proper Battlefield
2021-09-15

            The mask or don't mask controversy has taken a toll on many people in this state.  It has brought school boards to their knees, over an argument that belongs in Harrisburg.

            Last month Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Health, Allison Beam, signed an Order requiring face coverings to be worn in all school entities, including school districts, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers, intermediate units, and early learning and other child care settings. 

            Failure to implement and follow the control measures under the Order subjects a person to the penalty provisions of the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955. Failing to implement or follow the control measures may also expose individuals to personal liability under 42 Pa.C.S § 8550 (relating to willful misconduct), as well as other remedies as provided by law.

            You absolutely have the right to agree or disagree with the state mandate.  But, it is a mandate that the schools are ordered to adhere to.  School administrators who choose not to follow the state-mandated rule run the risk of incurring personal punitive action as well as penalties that could cost tax-payers.

            Even a loophole in the order that allowed parents to request exemptions to the school mask mandate without a doctor's signature was closed this week with a notice from Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, Ph.D. to a Bucks County School District.  He wrote, in part, "This order is not optional." 

            His missive continued with: "by failing to adhere to the order, you may personally face lawsuits from those who may be affected by noncompliance with the Order, including children who may become ill as a result of the district's violation, or disabled children who are unable to attend school because of the district's failure to follow the order. In such a situation, you could face suit and potential liability with no indemnification or protection. In this regard, the administration is aware that some districts' liability insurers have explored cancelling coverage as a result of those districts' possible illegal conduct and potential purposeful violations of law."

            Further, "school districts' violations of law may negatively affect workers' compensation claims coverage and premium calculations. We strongly suggest that officials inquire with their personal insurance professionals regarding the extent that personal insurance (homeowners, etc.) may or may not offer protection in the event that you are sued in your personal capacity."

            School administrators have good reason to personally feel threatened if they go against the state mandate.

            Protesting and hating school administrators won't change the mind of Pennsylvania's Governor, Acting State Secretary of Health, or the Secretary of Education.  It just keeps the argument away from their front door.

            The battle should be staged in Harrisburg now and at the ballot box in upcoming elections.

            Ridiculing and demeaning local school officials doesn't deliver the message to Harrisburg; it only makes our local communities more volatile and divisive; something we don't need.

            Choose your protest wisely and display it where it will have the most effect.


 

 

 

 

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