Masks, Vaccines, HIPPA, and the Classroom

(revised 8/18/2021)

Since Seeds of Literacy announced plans to reopen (after COVID-19 shuttered our doors for more than a year), we’ve received some questions. You asked. We’re answering.

“Why is Seeds requiring proof of vaccination to come on-site?”

You will be asked to show proof of vaccination on your first visit back to Seeds. Seeds has an obligation to ensure the safety of ALL of our on-site stakeholders. We hope you share that commitment, but we understand if you have personal, medical, or religious reasons for exemption. 

If you are unable or unwilling (no matter what the reason) to provide proof of vaccination, we hope you’ll continue with us in the Virtual Classroom. It’s a permanent location and an option that allows students who can’t or won’t be vaccinated to continue working toward their academic goals. We want to serve as many students as possible — safely!

“Isn’t that illegal?”

No. Kindergarteners, travelers, health care workers, and Ellis Island immigrants have something in common. Most of them had to prove, in one form or another, that they wouldn’t spread deadly infectious diseases to others. 

Without that proof, they couldn’t start school, get on a plane, work in a hospital, or start a new life in America. 

For example, In the state of Ohio, K-12 schools require the following vaccinations to attend: Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis, Varicella (chicken pox) and Meningococcal Meningitis.

These are  just a few examples of the long-established right for public institutions such as schools, employers, governments, and travel services to protect the health of others by requiring individuals to (A) provide proof of vaccination or (B) seek a medical or religious exception that require accommodations.

Seeds of Literacy is no different. 

“But what about HIPPA?”

HIPPA is used to protect sensitive medical information for patients, but only applies to how physicians, hospitals, and health insurance share a patient’s information with third-party entities, according to a report by The Washington Post

This means that your healthcare provider or doctor can’t call Seeds (a third-party) and provide us with your vaccination information without your consent. (Seeds can’t call your doctor and ask, either.)

HIPPA does NOT protect medical information that A PATIENT SHARES about themselves.

HIPPA does NOT protect medical information that A PATIENT SHARES about themselves. 

You have a choice to attend Seeds of Literacy. 

You have a choice to share your vaccination status. 

If you choose to share it with Seeds of Literacy, whatever that status is, we are legally obligated to keep that information confidential and within our organization. 

If you choose to tell us you are not vaccinated, we will not ask the reason why. We understand there are a host of reasons why someone may be unwilling or unable to receive the vaccination. You don’t have to defend your decision.

For those individuals, we offer the Virtual Classroom. It was designed as an accommodation for those unable to return to the physical classroom. 

Learn more about HIPPA as it relates to the COVID vaccination here. 

“Ok, then why do I have to have a vaccination AND wear a mask if I come to class?”

First: Remember that the Virtual Classroom does not require a vaccine or a mask. That’s always an option for you.

Second: There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and the duration of vaccine effectiveness is still unknown. We have an obligation to err on the side of caution. 

As with most vaccinations, the COVID-19 vaccine is effective, but does not provide complete protection from the virus. The 90% effectiveness rates mean (and real-world data have shown) that roughly 10% of those who are fully vaccinated will still develop COVID. 

We recognize that a mask requirement is disappointing for some, but we would like to keep infection rates to zero for our students, staff, and tutors; we don’t want to lose ANYONE. As reported by The New York Times, hundreds of epidemiologists agree that masks are still necessary. The nation’s largest Registered Nurse union (first responders who have seen the deadliest pandemic in a century), agrees. 

Our team is choosing to look at the bright side — wearing a mask has nearly eliminated symptoms of seasonal colds, the flu, and allergies!

Although we don’t anticipate that these precautions will last forever, we do not know when we will retire them.

Our Bottom Line

This is our first pandemic and we don’t want to make any mistakes, especially when it involves life and death.

We are working really hard to ensure the safety of all of our stakeholders (air purifiers, sanitizer, and more strict cleaning protocols). We hope that our students and tutors are just as committed to everyone’s safety to do their part (screening, providing proof of vaccination, and masking). 

Both masks and proof of vaccination are required to receive tutoring in a PHYSICAL Seeds of Literacy classroom.

The Virtual Classroom is an option for all students and volunteers. No masks or vaccines are required for virtual learning. 

Reopening Plans 

Seeds of Literacy reopens Seeds West and Seeds East classrooms for on-site tutoring the week of July 12, 2021.

Physical Classrooms will be open in a limited capacity. Tutoring will be offered 2 days a week at each location.  (Beginning September 13, tutoring offered 4 days a week at each location.) The Virtual Classroom remains operational 4 days a week to accommodate out-of-state students, unvaccinated students, and students with limited mobility or other health restrictions.


  • Seeds West: Mondays & Tuesdays
  • Seeds East: Wednesdays & Thursdays
  • Virtual Orientation: Mondays


  • Seeds West: Wednesdays & Thursdays
  • Seeds East: Mondays & Tuesdays
  • BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 13, 2021: Tutoring at both locations resumes 4 days a week Monday through Thursday

Read more about our reopening plans.

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