Central Bucks School District says masks will be optional for upcoming school year

DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Central Bucks School District officials say masks will be optional for students and staff for the upcoming school year.

"Masking will be optional in schools and on buses, and the district is not requiring proof of COVID vaccination," read a portion of a letter to parents. (Read the full letter below)

Officials say their decision was developed in consultation with the Bucks County Health Department, but state and federal recommendations were also taken into consideration.

Jackson Cunnane and Aubrey Grzywacz, both seniors at the district, agree with the decision.

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"I think that's it's nice to have the choice," said Grzywacz.

Neighbor Jan Kaupas, who has a grandchildren in the district, also agrees.

"I think that's up to parents rather than the school board," said Kaupas.

But not everyone is on board. Indu Nayak's daughter is about to turn 12 years old and says she will be wearing a mask.

"We are going to do that because she's yet to be vaccinated," said Nayak.

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As it stands now, the CDC is not recommending all students and staff wear masks, rather only those unvaccinated.

But just this past Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all students over two years old and staff should wear masks, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Even with COVID cases on the rise - with the Delta variant infecting primarily those not vaccinated - parent Ken Anderson is supporting the decision. His daughter is heading into the 10th grade at Central Bucks West High School.

"I think it's fine. I think that's what the science says. I have faith in the school district," said Anderson.

The school district also says its health and safety plan will be discussed at the upcoming July 27, 2021 meeting.



Read the full letter from the Central Bucks School District:

Dear Central Bucks families,

Over the past few weeks, we have received emails from parents anxious to learn more about our plans for reopening schools on August 30, 2021. As indicated prior to the close of school in June, our intention is to reopen with full day in-person education, including regular lunch and academic bell schedules, extracurricular activities, and sports, as was the case prior to COVID.

To satisfy mandates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the district must submit a draft health and safety plan for the 2021-22 school year by July 31, 2021. Although the DOH and PDE will not be releasing separate state guidance or recommendations for the start of the 2021-22 school year, both the DOH and PDE continue to advise school entities to follow the revised guidance for K-12 schools released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, taking into consideration local levels of community transmission, vaccination coverage, and policies and regulations when creating and implementing mitigation strategies.

Following this guidance, the Central Bucks School District's draft health and safety plan for the 2021-22 school year, developed in consultation with the Bucks County Health Department and reviewed by Dr. David Damsker, remains available for your feedback. Masking will be optional in schools and on buses, and the district is not requiring proof of COVID vaccination. The draft plan will be up for consideration at the upcoming July 27, 2021 school board meeting, and the 2021-2022 health and safety plan must be submitted to PDE no later than July 31, 2021. Additionally, the board will discuss the feasibility of an elementary virtual option for families who indicated interest on a recent survey.

We acknowledge the decisions surrounding the opening of school on August 30, 2021 impact each of you and engender a wide variety of responses. After sixteen long months, the education of our 18,000 students is of utmost importance, and we acknowledge our awesome responsibility in setting the conditions for their academic and interpersonal growth. COVID is something we will need to learn to live with, and will require us to move forward purposefully, and with determination to mitigate the risks of spread while simultaneously restoring the quality and continuity of education our students and families deserve.

While no one can predict what the future holds, rest assured our district team is prepared to come together to address any challenge, and we remain committed to making our schools fantastic places for students to learn and grow. Thank you, and may you continue to enjoy these weeks of summer.

Sincerely,

Abram M. Lucabaugh, Ed.D.
Acting Superintendent of Schools
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