LINCOLN – The Nebraska State Education Association issued a press release Thursday calling on school districts to require the use of masks by all students and staff.

The press release was in conjunction with a letter to school superintendents that noted that the Sept. 1 directed health measure lists educators as essential employees and says teachers that wear face masks  are  exempted from certain quarantine requirements.

Jenni Benson, president of the teachers union, said the DHM has a focus on masks.

Benson: “The science and data are clear: The spread of COVID-19 is minimized when everyone wears face coverings. School districts that do not require students to wear face coverings are unreasonably and needlessly exposing students and staff to COVID-19.”

Benson said notice of quarantine exceptions and mandatory face coverings are a minimum standard.

 

Here is the letter from the NSEA:

 

It has come to our attention that several school districts do not require the use of face coverings despite medical recommendations and current Directed Health Measures (DHM).  The science and data are clear:  The spread of COVID-19 is minimized when everyone wears face coverings.  Educational workers are now exempted from certain quarantine requirements if they, among other things, wear face coverings.  Students are also no longer required to quarantine if face coverings were used at the time of a close contact with someone who is symptomatic or positive with COVID-19.  Both exceptions focus on the presence of face coverings.

School districts that do not require students to wear face coverings are unreasonably and needlessly exposing students and staff to COVID-19.  It is the expectation of the NSEA that school districts require the use of face coverings by all staff and students. 

The NSEA also expects school districts to inform employees when others in their work environment remain in the school building pursuant to the DHM quarantine exceptions.  The NSEA considers notice of a quarantine exception and mandatory face coverings as a minimum standard of care necessary to satisfy every school district’s legal duty to protect employee health and safety.

Navigating our school communities through these unprecedented times requires science-based decision making and respect for personal health decisions.  Employee confidence in the measures used to protect their health and safety will promote and secure the educational mission of our schools.  School districts that do not require the use of face coverings for all students and staff or that fail to notify employees when others in their work environment remain in the school building pursuant to DHM quarantine expectations subject the district and those responsible, including administration and board members, to potentially significant legal liability.

As always, NSEA stands ready to assist and advocate for our public schools, students and staff. As we move into the winter months, I want to remind you that the NSEA Children’s Fund is available to help students in need. From providing funds for a warm coat, mittens or shoes to helping to meet more complex needs, NSEA’s Children’s Fund will work to ensure that the physical, social and emotional needs of students do not stand in the way of their success in school. There is never red tape or lengthy delay for NSEA members who want to use the fund to help a student. A simple toll-free call to the NSEA (800-742-0047) is usually all that is needed. All requests are handled discreetly and confidentially. More information can be found at https://www.nsea.org/childrensfund.

Thank you for the work you do in support of our public schools, students and staff. Working together and vigilantly following health and safety protocols will provide all Nebraskans with the best chance at beating this pandemic.