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Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down School Mask Mandate

pennsylvania supreme court strikes down school mask mandate

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Friday that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam didn’t have the authority to issue a school mask mandate like she did earlier this year. The statewide school mask mandate is now officially over.

Justices on the Court handed down their order on Friday afternoon after hearing arguments on the case earlier this week. A full opinion is expected later.

In its decision on Friday, the state Supreme Court upheld the Nov. 10 decision of a Commonwealth court that also ruled Beam was out of line in issuing the mask mandate on child care facilities and K-12 schools.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down School Mask Mandate

Blue Mountain school board members and administration hear arguments from upset parents of their decision to follow the state’s school mask mandate (Canary Photo)

Beam appealed the Commonwealth Court decision to the Supreme Court. The Commonwealth Court was ruling in a lawsuit filed by State Sen. Jake Corman and other parents who believed Beam didn’t have the authority to issue the mask mandate originally.

That mandate went into effect on Sept. 7, after school had started for many districts in Pennsylvania. Prior to that, Gov. Tom Wolf indicated that he’d allow local school districts to make their own decisions on mask mandates prior to the start of the 2021-22 term. But when most Pennsylvania schools chose to keep masks optional, the Wolf administration chastised districts for their decisions.

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Here in Schuylkill County, the issue of masks in schools was contentious in some communities and seemingly a non-issue in others. Tamaqua Area was the only school in Pennsylvania to openly defy the mask mandate, which drew sharp criticism and threats from the state Education Dept.

In Blue Mountain School District, board members there were split on the mandate and heard from a public that clearly was against its implementation. And at Williams Valley, school board and administration had to postpone a public meeting due to an incensed public demanding they not follow the mandate.

It’ll now fall on local school districts to enact their own mask mandates.

 

 

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