HARRISBURG, Pa. — On a day that marks the beginning of football season at many high schools across the commonwealth, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration on Friday asked Pennsylvania school districts to voluntarily enforce the Department of Health's recommendation that crowds at outdoor gatherings be limited to a maximum of 250 people.
In a reminder sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Wolf administration said the recent federal court ruling striking down some of the state's COVID-19 mitigation orders was not "a blanket end to the mitigation orders put in place to protect residents of the commonwealth from the deadly COVID-19 virus."
The letter also encouraged Pennsylvania school districts to enforce the 250-person outdoor seating limit while the court process plays out.
The full letter:
“You are likely aware that on Monday a federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a decision striking down some of the commonwealth’s COVID-related orders. The ruling is limited to the business closure order and the stay at home orders issued in March, which were later suspended, as well as the 25-person indoor and 250-person outdoor gathering limitations.
“The actions taken by the Wolf Administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved and continue to save lives. As such, the Wolf Administration has applied for a stay of the order and will appeal this decision. Nevertheless, we understand that you may be wondering how this development might impact your operations in the intervening time until the litigation comes to a resolution.
“The ruling was not a blanket end to the mitigation orders put in place to protect residents of the commonwealth from the deadly COVID-19 virus and we must all stay the course to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Indeed, all other orders of the governor and Secretary of Health remain in effect, including the order on face coverings.
“School entities remain responsible for enforcing the face covering order and requiring social distancing at school and at all school events, including school sporting events. The administration encourages schools to voluntarily enforce the 25- person indoor and 250-person outdoor gathering limitation while all of us wait for the court to rule on the stay request.
“We trust that school leaders understand the critical importance of maintaining the health and safety of our school communities, and further trust that they will continue to maintain strong social distancing and face covering policies necessary to contain and mitigate this virus.”
The virus that causes COVID-19 is easily transmitted, especially in group settings, and it is essential that the spread of the virus be slowed to safeguard public health and safety, the Wolf administration said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is committed to offering guidance and resources to support and help protect school communities during this pandemic.
Additional resources for school communities during COVID-19 at https://www.education.pa.gov/Schools/safeschools/emergencyplanning/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx.