The Pennsylvania governor said Tuesday that his administration was imposing a statewide mask in all schools, becoming the last governor to embrace a politically charged but federally recommended precaution.
Beginning Sept. 7, masks will be mandatory for teachers, staff, and visitors to Pennsylvania public and private schools, early learning programs, and childcare centers. a press conference with Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat.
“Wearing a mask at school is necessary to keep our children in the classroom and to keep Covid out,” said Mr Wolf.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended masks for everyone within a school, regardless of vaccination status, as a way to keep students safe from personal schooling. Additional safety measures are especially important in schools because there is no federally approved vaccine against the coronavirus for children under 12, federal health officials said.
Republican politicians across the country argue that imposing mask requirements infringes on individual liberties, and many states with Republican governors, especially Florida and Texas, have fought against mask mandates by school districts and localities.
However, some districts have instituted mask mandates, leading to legal battles. The U.S. Department of Education announced Monday it was beginning an investigation into whether bans on mask mandates in five states violated civil rights laws protecting disabled students.
States with Democratic governors, including California, New York, and Louisiana, have adopted universal mask mandates in schools, as has the Republican governor in Massachusetts. Data collected by NewsMadura indicates Pennsylvania is the 16th state to order a statewide mandate for a school mask.
Pennsylvania is outperforming many other states during the latest wave of infections, but the state has still seen significant increases in reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to data collected by The Times.
Mr. Wolf, a Democratic governor who must work with a Republican-controlled legislature, said earlier this summer he thought it was best for school districts to choose their own measures to protect students and staff.
But on Tuesday, Mr. Wolf said the rapid spread of the Delta variant, the many requests from his constituents and a spike in the number of cases, especially among children, had changed his mind.
That turnaround was not acceptable to Pennsylvania Senate president pro tempore, Jake Corman, a Republican, who said “it’s completely unfair of him to freak out now when he didn’t like the school districts’ choices” in a statement. statement on Tuesday.
“Our position during the pandemic has been consistent – we believe in local control,” added Mr Corman. “School districts are best placed to make decisions regarding student health and safety, and they should be empowered to make those choices.”
Mr Wolf said protecting people in schools was more important.
“We have to put politics aside,” said Mr. Wolf. “We need to get back to what matters: keeping students safe and keeping students in the classroom.”