WARREN (Erie News Now) – Parents in Warren County are asking lots of questions about the mask mandate for Pennsylvania schools and what it means for their children.
Warren County School District students went back to class today with an option to wear masks, but starting September 7th, that will change.
District Superintendent, Amy Stewart, is always busy making sure everything runs smoothly on the first day of school. But this year, a new wrench has been thrown in the district’s plan.
“It was a little bit less than ideal to try to focus on the first day of school, and then find out we were getting an order this afternoon,” she told Erie News Now on Tuesday evening.
Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health handed down an order to mask all children in Commonwealth classrooms, just as the first day of school was ending Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement sparked a lot of debate on the district’s Facebook page.
“It feels like a tug of war and our kids are in the middle. Some people feel like they’re winning or losing, and it just isn’t a positive atmosphere for anyone to be dealing with,” Stewart said.
She says she understands everyone’s frustration when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation and sudden changes. But, Stewart wants to make one thing clear: WCSD is committed to keeping schools open in Warren County, no matter what that looks like.
“Masks are an integral part of our health and safety plan. They’re a mandated part of that plan that we have to address what we’re doing. So, we’re getting that language up to date and determining what that’ll look like, and that will drive our parents’ decisions,” she said.
Warren County School District knows some will pull their children out of school, solely based on the masking mandate. It happened last year when the same mandate was issued. However, there is nothing WCSD or any other PA school system can do. They must follow what the Commonwealth orders.
Amidst figuring out new mitigation, Superintendent Stewart, and the rest of Warren County school staff and faculty, are focused on making this school year a successful one for all students.
“It’s exciting to get them back, get them on track, get those credits recovered and get kids back on their pathway to graduation. That’s what we are. It’s what we do,” she said.
The masking mandate will go in to effect for all students and staff starting Sept. 7th.
Students who refuse to wear masks may be denied entry to school buildings across the state.
As of now, there is no timeline of when this order could be lifted.