Community Update - September 4, 2021

Community Update - September 4, 2021

Dear Annville-Cleona School District Parent(s)/Guardian(s):

A lot has happened this week that has caused relief for some families and has added stress on others.  From starting our school year, to the mask mandate from the Department of Health, and then ending with Tropical Depression Ida and the flooding it brought.  Overall, there is a lot to be thankful for as we had a great first week with students and staff!  

Many families have called and/or emailed expressing both viewpoints on the mandatory masking Order from the Department of Health.  Some families are thankful while others are upset.  Our goal at the district is to provide a safe environment to educate our students.  I realize both sides of the issue have their views on how best to achieve this goal and we are doing our best to work together to meet the goal as we did last year.

When the district was initially told by the State that masking would be a local decision, the district relied on the guidance of our local physicians; we began the school year as masks optional.  Now that the district is being mandated to wear masks, we are relying on the guidance of our solicitor to navigate this Order since our board-approved Health and Safety Plan states we will comply with all mandates.  

The Annville-Cleona School District, like many other districts, is caught in the middle of a no-win situation.  The anger and divide it is causing in our community is disheartening and misdirected.  The district has followed every stipulation that has been placed on the district by the Commonwealth.  We are not in a place to open ourselves up to potential liability knowing our solicitor is saying we must follow the mandate (as are many other districts across the Commonwealth).  Our solicitor has stated, “Unless or until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an injunction against the Secretary of Health regarding the implementation and enforcement of the Secretary’s  Mask Order effective on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the School District is obligated to comply with the provisions of that Order."

In the hopes of providing some clarity on the expectations and options available to families now that this mask mandate Order is in place, below are some answers to frequently asked questions as they pertain to our district as well as linked here are the frequently asked questions and clarifications from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

  • What will happen if I send my student to school without a mask?
    • Our building administrators will use “Insubordination” under the Code of Conduct found in the student handbook that provides guidelines on the progressive steps that will be taken to address safety concerns.
      • Some examples (this is not a comprehensive list) include:  talking with the student about needing to comply with the mandate, offering the student various mask options, having a parent meeting to seek cooperation, providing asynchronous work to students in a separate room until they comply, and ultimately, having another parent meeting to review and enroll the student in our online virtual ACDC program if the student continues to refuse to comply.
      • Since this is a change from what our students have become accustomed to this past week, we are asking staff to be flexible in our reminders to students in those first few days. Ultimately, however, continued and intentional failure to wear a mask as required under this Order will result in progressive measures, just as was the case last year. This again is something that the Order requires, and each of our staff members could be held personally liable if he/she does not enforce the Order.
  • What educational options are available if my student refuses to wear a mask?
    • The Annville-Cleona Digital Community (ACDC) virtual program is available for students, K-12.  In partnership with IU13, the course offerings have been updated and some courses utilize our teachers as the proctors.  This is a flexible option where students can enroll then return to in-person learning at any time.  If you are interested in this option, please contact Mr. Tommy Long at for additional information. 
    • At the Middle and High School levels, there are currently 3 fully online courses that our teachers created based on our curriculum and proctor.  The courses are Algebra 1, British Literature, & English Essentials 2.  If you are interested in this option, which provides the flexibility to be in person for some classes and then to do other classes at home, please contact your student’s counselor.
  • Why is the district not offering a synchronous online option like CARES again this year?
    • While our teachers did a tremendous job of adjusting to balancing in-person and online teaching simultaneously, the level of instruction is not the same as in-person instruction where the attention is focused on one classroom of students.
    • Our students need to be in school.  If there has been anything that has been echoed in agreement, it is that in-person learning and socialization is what our students need.
  • What is needed to get an exemption to the mask mandate for a student?
    • We will follow the same process as last year in that we will require a licensed physician’s note and then convene a team meeting to discuss accommodations.  Linked here is the official form that will need to be submitted to the building principal along with the physician’s note.

Cooperation and understanding by everyone, regardless of which side of this you are on, is going to be needed if we are going to continue to safely educate our children in person.  We have heard from some families with intentions of not complying and/or protesting this Order.  As a district, we strongly urge that these types of actions be avoided.  It will only continue to divide our tight-knit community and be potentially detrimental to the relationships between students and the staff who need to enforce the Order.

Thank you to all the families who have reached out to offer a word of support over the past few days.  It is truly appreciated as our district continues to navigate this complex and continually changing situation.  I believe in our district and know that we will get through this.

If you have any questions or concerns about the information contained in this letter, please feel free to contact me.  I may not always have the answer you are looking for, but I will always be respectful and respond in a timely manner.


Dr. Krista M. Antonis