KDKA reached out to McGuffey School District for a statement and has yet to hear back.By Amy Wadas

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) — Some parents in the McGuffey School District say there’s been an overwhelming number of people submitting mask exemptions for their kids.

They say this is very concerning as the Delta variant continues to spread.

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School board member Zonie Jackson posted a link to the mask exemption form on her Facebook page, stating no other documentation is required and students don’t need a doctor’s note of any kind. The form is also on the district’s website.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“It means nobody is going to wear a mask, and it means even kids who can’t wear a mask because they have a medical exemption aren’t safe,” McGuffey parent Emily Dale said.

Dale says there’s more.

“I’ve also heard roomfuls of kids were doing their own forms because it’s just a Google Doc with a parent’s email address,” Dale said.

Attorney Matthew Mangino, who’s a solicitor for some districts in Lawrence County, said the language in the acting secretary of health’s order isn’t very clear, saying that accommodations will be provided for those who state they have a medical, mental health condition or disability.

“It doesn’t talk in the original order about any type of medical verification or proof of those conditions. Unfortunately, the secretary left some wiggle room for districts looking at this,” Mangino said.

However, Mangino suspects most districts will want to comply with the order the best they can to prevent students and teachers from getting sick. He said if districts don’t follow the order, they could potentially face a legal battle.

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“There’s some sort of outbreak or catastrophic problem in your school district, then you’re certainly going to face scrutiny, and it’s going to start with were you following the orders of the Department of Health,” said Mangino.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health released this statement:

“It is recommended that any exception be in accordance with eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA for such medical or mental health condition or disability and school entities should follow their established processes for determining student eligibility under those laws, including any medical documentation that they would normally require. This documentation may include a form from a qualified practitioner with a treatment relationship with the student.

“Any school entity simply permitting a parent’s sign-off without evidence that the student has a medical or mental health condition or disability that precludes the wearing of a face covering is not in compliance with the Order.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education released this statement:

“As previously mentioned, it is recommended that any exception be in accordance with eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA for such medical or mental health condition or disability and school entities should follow their established processes for determining student eligibility under those laws, including any medical documentation that they would normally require. This documentation may include a form from a qualified practitioner with a treatment relationship with the student. Any school entity simply permitting a parent’s sign-off without evidence that the student has a medical or mental health condition or disability that precludes the wearing of a face covering is not in compliance with the Order.

“Questions relating to individual doctors or their actions are typically handled by the Pennsylvania Department of State. You may want to reach out to that office. Individuals who are aware that physicians are offering blanket exemptions may file a professional licensing complaint through the Department of State.”

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KDKA’s Amy Wadas reached out to McGuffey School District for a statement and has yet to hear back.