HARRISBURG, PA. (Erie News Now) – Pennsylvania Acting Health Secretary is discussing the recent Commonwealth Court ruling that struck down the school mask mandate.
The Health Department immediately appealed the ruling and the case will now be heard in the State Supreme Court.
When asked what the ruling means for parents and schools, Acting Secretary Alison Beam said while the appeal process unfolds in the State Supreme Court, the school masking order stays.
“For the school districts and the parents with children in school, at this point, nothing changes,” said Acting Secretary Beam. “It’s going to be masking just as it was two weeks ago, keeping students, teachers, and staff safe.”
Just two days before the Commonwealth Court ruling, Governor Tom Wolf announced he would be returning school masking decisions to local districts this January.
Regardless, of how long the appeal process takes, Beam says it’s still important to have a statewide school mask requirement, at least until January when local districts will make masking decisions.
“The mandate definitely still has value,” said Beam. “Being able to have that level of consistency with students, teachers and staff understanding how to safely and effectively go about in-person education, is incredibly important,” she added.
Colder temperatures are another reason Beam believes the mandate still has value.
“And of course, this fall into this winter, we’re also going to shift from having activities outdoors to moving more to an indoor setting, just given our climate. So that masking order remaining in place will be incredibly important,” said Beam.
If the State Supreme Court sides with the Health Department, the statewide school masking order will likely last until mid-January, which is when Gov. Wolf says masking will be at the discretion of local school districts. If the State Supreme Court rules to throw away Secretary Beam’s masking order, it will still be up to local school districts to decide what’s best for students.