‘Necessary for our future’: Wolf declares mask mandate at PA schools amid local disputes and surging COVID

The order will require masks to be worn at early learning programs, child care providers, K-12 public, private and parochial schools and more.

 

by Tylisa C. Johnson, PublicSource

With COVID hospitalizations and cases rising as more students return to school buildings, masks will now be required indoors regardless of vaccination status at all Pennsylvania PreK-12 school buildings, early learning programs and child care centers. The new order by the Pennsylvania secretary of health will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 7. 

The decision is a change of course from early August when Gov. Tom Wolf said he wouldn’t require masks in schools. In recent weeks, tensions have boiled over between parents and school district leaders regarding masking and parent choice, both locally and nationwide. 

The order signed by Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam will require masks to be worn by everyone 2 and older who enters early learning programs, child care providers, K-12 public, private and parochial schools, intermediate units and career and technical centers. Beam issued the order under authority given by the Disease Prevention and Control Law.

The mask mandate won’t apply to school sports or outdoor activities. 

“This is necessary for our future as a commonwealth,” Wolf said at a Tuesday conference.

Wolf continued: “Doing nothing right now to stop COVID-19, that’s just not an option. Doing nothing is going to mean more sick kids. It’s going to mean more days out of school.”

Universal indoor masking will reduce the risk of COVID and the potential need to quarantine a classroom or a school, to minimize learning disruptions, state leaders said. Leaders said COVID cases among school-aged children statewide increased by more than 11,000 in the last month. 

Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said in a Tuesday statement that she “wholeheartedly” supported Wolf’s decision. She said that for months the department urged local districts to require masking in schools. Twenty-six districts in the county already put full mask mandates in place.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at a press conference on Dec. 14, 2018. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

 

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‘Necessary for our future’: Wolf declares mask mandate at PA schools amid local disputes and surging COVID

 

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