Health Choice Maine is committed to ensuring that all children are included in their classrooms and not segregated, isolated, or forced into remote learning.
Many children with chronic health conditions and those who receive special services and have valid medical exemptions to masks and face shields are being isolated and segregated from their classroom peers.
Isolation and segregation can mean that students receive their education in “rooms” no bigger than a closet and their teacher is outfitted with full PPE – a gown, gloves, mask, and face shield. The students are required to spend their entire day in that classroom, including lunch. Many cannot even participate in outdoor recess.
In other situations, parents feel pressured to choose remote learning for their student because the school tells them that if they cannot wear a mask, they cannot go to school.
At Health Choice Maine we believe that this is blatant discrimination against children with disabilities and medical conditions. It is a violation of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education), ADA regulations, and depending on the student, a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA, which are all federal law.
We urge the Maine Department of Education to update their guidance to think more creatively in finding solutions for students who cannot wear masks for medical or developmental reasons.
Putting children in closets to learn does more harm than good. Please join us in contacting our elected officials and tell them to stop segregating kids!