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Mask mandate for Pennsylvania public and private schools begins

All students, staff, and teachers in K-12 schools will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, starting today.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Students in Pennsylvania will need to keep their masks close.

Beginning today, Pennsylvania joins about a dozen other states that are requiring students in both public and private schools to wear masks while inside the classroom. 

The mandate was announced one week ago by the Wolf Administration and is expected to be in place until at least the first week of October when the order will be reviewed and the administration will decide whether it should remain in place. 

The Wolf Administration changed its course from earlier in the summer when it said it would allow school districts to decide if masks would be required. The administration said a rise in COVID-19 cases among school-aged children has increased by more than 11,000 last month, and was the reason behind the issuing of the mask mandate. 

The mandate mirrors CDC recommendations, which suggest universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. Student athletes will be allowed to go without masks while playing sports, however. 

Some Republican lawmakers and a group of parents are challenging the mask mandate. The group, including State Sen. Pro Tempore Jake Corman, has filed a lawsuit alleging the mask mandate did not go through the state's regulatory review process by the general assembly. The Wolf Administration claims it issued the mandate through powers granted by the Disease Control and Prevention Law of 1955. 

The administration must respond to this lawsuit by Sept. 8. A court hearing is set for Sept. 16.

As for now, the mask mandate remains in effect for all Pennsylvania public and private schools.

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