Now that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled the school mask mandate was illegal as a statewide rule, most schools in Schuylkill County are adjusting.
Some, thankfully, have ditched the masks while many other schools are keeping the mandate in place. By our count, just 5 of the 14 districts in Schuylkill County decided to drop the mandate and return to keeping masks optional.
At the beginning of the school term, prior to the state’s illegal mandate, only 1 Schuylkill County district – Gillingham Charter – had a mask mandate in place.
Schuylkill County School Mask Mandate Rules
Here’s a look at where each Schuylkill County public school district stands on the mask issue, as of Monday, Dec 13:
Blue Mountain School District
Administration at Blue Mountain School District took to social media on Saturday morning to update parents that it was dropping the mask mandate, making masks optional in its school buildings. The mask mandate on school buses is still in place.
Gillingham Charter School – Pottsville
Gillingham Charter School had a mask mandate in place since the beginning of the school year and it will continue to follow the mask mandate until further notice.
“Our plan was approved before the PA mask mandate went into effect, and we will continue to follow the recommendation of the CDC and Department of Health as well as the PA Department of Education regarding indoor masking,” school officials write on its Facebook page.
Mahanoy Area School District
Mahanoy Area School District is keeping the mask mandate in place for now, the school announced Sunday on its Facebook page.
“We will revisit this two weeks after the holiday break,” the school says.
Minersville Area School District
School officials at Minersville are keeping the mask mandate in place, too. In a letter to parents and guardians, Superintendent Carl McBreen says, “WIth the rising number of COVID cases county-wide, the Pandemic Team stands in agreement to maintain our current school mandate of wearing face masks during school hours in all school buildings.”
McBreen adds in his letter that while the Supreme Court ruled the mandate illegal, the Dept. of Health has kept quarantine rules in place, which require students and staff be kept out of school if they’re a close contact to a positive COVID case and weren’t wearing a mask.
“The use of masks is one of our best defenses against increased quarantines within the school,” McBreen writes.
North Schuylkill School District
At North Schuylkill School District, the mask mandate for students and staff is staying. North Schuylkill said it would follow the guidance from, among others, the state Dept. of Education and Dept. of Health, which tried to illegally impose the mandate earlier this year.
“We believe masking is an important mitigation effort currently and is an important step to comply with quarantine guidelines and keep our students in person five days a week. To ensure the greatest likelihood that we will be able to continue to provide in-person instruction five days a week, for as many students possible, mandatory masking is necessary unless there is a change in contact tracing and quarantine protocols,” the school writes on a Facebook page update.
Panther Valley School District
At Panther Valley School District, students and staff must wear masks until Jan. 17 when the issue will be revisited.
Pine Grove Area School District
On Sunday, administration at Pine Grove Area School District told parents that it was dropping the mask mandate, making face coverings optional for students. Pine Grove is keeping a mask mandate in place on school buses. Here’s what the school posted on Facebook:
Pottsville Area School District
Masks are still mandatory at the Pottsville Area School District.
The district’s Pandemic Planning Team is meeting on Dec. 14 where this issue will likely be discussed.
Saint Clair Area School District
The mask mandate stays for now at Saint Clair Area School District.
The school announced on Facebook that the mask mandate limits who has to be quarantined, per Dept. of Education guidelines.
“By wearing masks indoors, we have had limited exposures and quarantines and it has allowed us to keep our students and staff in school,” school officials say. “We will continue with our current masking policy as recommended by the CDC through late January, where we will then revisit our policy.”
Schuylkill Haven Area School District
Masks are still mandatory at the Schuylkill Haven Area School District, too.
Haven was one of several districts to implement a mask mandate indoors prior to the illegal Dept. of Health order in August.
Shenandoah Valley School District
Students and staff at Shenandoah Valley School District will be following the mask mandate still in place, despite the Supreme Court ruling.
Tamaqua Area School District
Tamaqua was the only school district in Pennsylvania to defy the mask mandate, at least initially, and now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the school is going back to masks optional.
“It is important to understand, that the school district is still required to contact trace, provide quarantine guidance and report case information to the state,” states a letter to families from Superintendent Raymond Kinder.
Tri-Valley School District
In a letter to Tri-Valley School District families, Acting Superintendent Matthew Horoschak says the district is lifting the mask mandate, as of Dec. 12.
“We encourage our students to continue to wear face masks, so we can continue in‐person instruction, allow students to socialize in their buildings, and continue to allow our students to participate in extracurricular activities,” he writes.
Williams Valley School District
Williams Valley has lifted the school mask mandate inside its buildings, too. Masks will still be required on school buses.