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Statewide mask order



Yesterday, a statewide order took effect requiring students, staff, and visitors to wear masks in Pennsylvania schools. PSEA strongly believes that universal masking, per CDC guidelines, is the right thing to do to keep schools open for in-person instruction and reduce health risks for everyone.



This is an order, and all PSEA members in school buildings must follow it

While not all PSEA members may agree with this order, it is extremely important for all members to understand that it is an order, not a suggestion or a guideline. That means that all PSEA members must follow this order and wear masks in school buildings.


If members don’t follow the order, they could face legal consequences

Any person violating the order can, for each offense, be convicted of a summary offense and sentenced to pay fines or face jail time if fines are not paid. Fines range from $25 to $300. Criminal complaints can be filed with a local magistrate by the State Department of Health, County Departments of Health, or any person who knows someone has violated the order. 


If members don’t follow the order, they could be subject to discipline

Under the Educator Discipline Act, educators must “comply with all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations and with written school entity policies.” For members who don’t comply with the order, a person who knows they have violated the order can file a complaint with the Professional Standards and Practices Commission.


Here are some key things you need to know about this order:

  • Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Alison Bream issued the face covering order under the authority of the Disease Prevention and Control Law, the Administrative Code, and Department of Health regulations. This authority is separate from the governor’s emergency powers.
  • The order will remain in effect until the Secretary determines that coverings are no longer necessary in schools to reduce the public health risks posed by COVID-19.
  • School employees could face legal penalties if they do not wear face coverings as required by the order. Criminal charges can be filed by any person against school staff.  Certified educators might place their certifications at risk if they do not follow the order.
  • PSEA members should comply with the order even if their school board has decided to defy the order or does not otherwise direct them to do so.
  • If a school board decides not to enforce the order, school employees are not in a position to independently insist that students wear masks. However, school employees must follow the order themselves.
  • If a school is not enforcing the order, members should notify their local association representatives.


And here are some key reasons why universal masking in schools is a good idea:

  • Both the American Association of Pediatricians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended universal masking in schools.
  • If we don’t take steps to protect students and staff in schools, people WILL get sick. And when they get sick, students will need to quarantine, and some schools will be forced to close.
  • Universal masking in schools can help reduce serious health risks for students, staff, and their families, keep students in the classroom, and significantly reduce unnecessary interruptions to in-person learning.
  • Clear, unambiguous direction on universal masking allows school staff to focus on educating their students in a safe environment.
  • This isn’t a choice between masking or not masking. It is a choice between helping to keep schools open for in-person learning or forcing far too many students to learn from the other side of a screen.


We all need to follow the rules

We were all hoping that this school year wouldn’t begin with all of us wearing masks. But the spread of the Delta variant and the dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania has made mask wearing necessary.

This is a controversial topic, and PSEA members have different opinions about it. But as educators and support professionals, we know how to follow rules. This is a rule that we must follow. It is an order, not a suggestion.

Working together and supporting each other, we will get through this. And, with this order in place, we have a much better chance of keeping our students in the classroom, learning in person.


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400 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

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