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Masks optional for Lehighton Area students

Under the updated policy, masks will be optional for staff and students K-12, including those students under the age of 12 who still cannot be vaccinated.

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — On a hot summer day, the last thing many parents and students at Baer Memorial Pool in Lehighton are thinking about is the start of the school year.

But administrators with the Lehighton Area School District are, and they've come up with an updated health and safety plan.

"I will say that our administration, our nurses, and everything else have been working really hard with trying to keep everything as close to normal as well can as possible, especially preparing for the upcoming school year," said Lehighton Area Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver.

Under the updated policy, masks will be optional for staff and students from K-12, including those students under the age of 12 who still cannot be vaccinated.

Masks will still be required on school buses as they are still considered a form of public transportation.

Parents tell Newswatch 16, when it comes to masking up their child, they will take it day by day.

"I think whatever suits her and whatever will help her succeed more. She started kindergarten late, and all she knows is wearing a mask in front of everyone," said Samantha Kline of Lehighton.

"We're leaning towards having her wear one. At least, in the beginning, to see how it all works and if so, we'll compare and see what other families are doing. But right now, we're leaning toward having her wear it and going from there," said Jamie Igoe of Jim Thorpe.

 The administration says masks are optional, as well as vaccines. But district officials do say they will follow their health and safety plan if an outbreak does occur.

"It's important for people to know they may be optional, but there is still the chance that that quarantine will play a role in it because you don't have the masks, and we're doing our contact tracing," Cleaver said.

Lehighton will also give students the option to continue to learn virtually if they choose to.

Last year the district was one of few statewide that provided a five-day in-person learning schedule for kindergarten through eighth grade every day.