Know Your Contract: What to Do When a Student Won’t Wear a Mask

The PAT office has received numerous calls asking what to do when building administration will not enforce our safety agreement that requires students to wear masks. 

The answer is straightforward. We need affected PAT members to document the problem, so track the number of times a day you ask a student to wear their mask (or wear it properly), and the number of times you’ve requested your building administrator intervene to enforce the mask requirement. Obviously, this does not include students whose medical needs prevent them from wearing a mask.

If your administrator balks at enforcing the mask mandate, you can also share this section of the Oregon Department of Education’s Ready Schools, Safe Learner guidelines, updated on September 9th:

In the case that a student or family chooses not to wear a face covering for reasons other than medical need or disability, schools should follow district processes to determine how to respond keeping in mind both the responsibility for health and safety and the student’s need to access education. Conversations should be progressive and lead to resolution that ideally does not involve suspension. Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. Schools may offer a remote or online school option for the student. (italics and bold added)

The process of how to respond was laid out in our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) which states in Section 11.j, “The District shall not serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. The District may offer a remote or online option for such students.”

Documenting how many times you have had to request that a student wear a mask is how we demonstrate the “progressive” element of the RSSL guidance. By doing this you can help your administrator do their job--having a conversation with the student that resolves the issue and hopefully avoids suspension. Keep in mind, remote education is NOT suspension

If an administrator is finding it difficult to do their job and enforce our safety agreement, please have your building rep contact the PAT office with the details (no student names) of your efforts, and we will inform the District and school community of its failure to enforce a ratified agreement.