On Tuesday, 8/31, Governor Tom Wolf joined Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam, Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead, and Department of Education Secretary Noe Ortega for a virtual press conference to discuss the current state of COVID-19 across the commonwealth and the 2021-2022 school year. The full press conference was at 2 pm on 8/31 and can be found here.
The order announced (with related PDE FAQ resources) is not by legislative action but by the Secretary of Heath’s authority.
Effective next week on Tuesday, September 7, all of Pennsylvania’s K-12 public (including charter) and private school students, teachers, and staff are mandated to wear masks when inside (there are some exemptions in the order). The mandate also applies to child care centers. The mandate will not apply to student athletes while they participate in and play sports.
Presently, there is no expiration date on the order itself. Government officials plan to reconvene the first week in October to re-evaluate the situation.
Schools do not need to update their health and safety plans.
Enforcement parameters include possible criminal liability and impacts on school funding.
Lenny McAllister, CEO of the Coalition, said in response “Once again, Governor Wolf is making one-size-fits-all mandates from Harrisburg that simply do not fit the needs of all Pennsylvania families and schoolchildren. We have trusted parents, teachers, and administrators to make good decisions for students in schools throughout the last school year. We should continue to trust them again this school year. The primary focus of this Administration should focus on ensuring the continuity of learning for all K-12 students, especially as the potential for learning loss looms for students in Pennsylvania since Governor Wolf closed schools in March 2020.”