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Pa. Supreme Court vacates mask mandate for schools, child care facilities effective immediately

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has vacated the mask mandate issued by the Acting State Health Secretary Alison Beam.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has affirmed the Commonwealth Court's decision and vacated the mask mandate issued by the acting state health secretary.

This means that the mask mandate has been dropped, effective immediately.

The opinion is expected to be released at a later date. Judge Saylor did not participate in the vote.

The legality of the order requiring masks in K-12 schools and child care facilities went before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this week, as the two sides argued their respective positions before the justices Wednesday in Philadelphia. 

The high court just last week ordered that the directive remains in place while they consider a legal challenge from the state Senate’s highest-ranking leader and others. 

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam's mandate took effect in early September. 

A lower court had ruled Beam lacked authority to require masks, didn't follow state laws about enacting regulations, and acted without a required existing disaster emergency.

After the state's Department of Health appealed the Commonwealth Court's decision, the 4-to-1 ruling was automatically stayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

Lawyers on both sides of the case argued on the legal validity of the Acting Secretary of Health's decision to enforce the mask mandate. 

Senior Deputy Attorney General Sean A. Kirkpatrick said the Acting Secretary had full authority due to state regulation, calling it a "modified disease control mechanism."

Attorney Thomas E. Breth disagreed saying Beam went outside of state laws.

Governor Tom Wolf has said he will turn the mask requirement over to school leaders on Jan. 17.

You can read the full order here:

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