Pittsburgh students to continue masking for another month.

Local cases continue dropping.


by PublicSource

The Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] board decided on Wednesday not to consider a proposal to remove the district’s mask mandate for another month in order to gather more information.

Six of the eight board members present said they wanted to learn more before voting on the change to the district’s COVID-safety rules.

Board member Pam Harbin said a brief explanation of the new guidelines during the meeting by Dr. Martin Gregorio, the district physician, was the first time the board had a chance to ask him questions. It was also the first time the board had a chance to discuss new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that other districts in Allegheny County have used to remove their mask mandates, she said.

Gregorio told the board that COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions were so low that it would be safe for the district to remove the mask mandate right now. He also said that the Allegheny County Health Department told him that other districts have not seen an upsurge in cases after their mask mandates were lifted.

Harbin said she didn’t oppose removing the mask mandate at the moment but was worried that the criteria to allow for masks to come off would not change quickly enough to call for masking to resume if the pandemic’s severity increased.

The board was originally going to vote on a policy that would include three masks policies, depending on how severe COVID-19 is in the community, referred to as the “Community Level.” If COVID-19 severity became high, masks would be required. If the level was medium, masks would be encouraged. If it was low, masks would be optional.

The board decided instead to vote next week on a more limited change to the district’s masking policy that would apply only to performing arts students. The board appeared likely to vote in favor of a measure that would allow those students to remove their masks. This would be similar to the exception already in place for athletes.

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