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Gov. Tom Wolf doesn't plan state mandate for masks or vaccines for schools, says decision lies with districts

Gov. Tom Wolf said that any state mandate on schools would just be "piling on" what districts are already doing.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Governor Tom Wolf reaffirmed Thursday that no state mandates regarding masks or vaccines are planned for Pennsylvania school districts. 

He said the decision rests with school districts and noted, "that's where it ought to rest." 

"I don't think there's any need for the state to step into this," said Wolf. He also added the goal should be for children to return back to the classroom.

Wolf said the state has encouraged schools to follow CDC guidelines

Those guidelines recommend universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 & older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also recommends schools maintain at least a 3 foot physical distance between students in classrooms. 

Wolf encouraged anyone who is eligible to get the vaccine to get the shot as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to drive cases up across the state and the nation. 

Recent data showed children now make up nearly 15% of the total COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and in the nation.

"If you can't avail yourself of the vaccine- here's what you do to keep safe- and masking is one of those things," said. Wolf about the CDC recommendations for schools. "...If you're under 12 you don't have access to the vaccine. So, I'm not sure what school districts alternatives really are. And, I don't think that a statewide mandate... it's just piling on... it's not going to actually change behaviors if they (the districts) have already decided already they want to do everything to keep kids safe."

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