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Special announcement about Gov. Wolf’s mask order


Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued an order requiring all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks in K-12 school buildings, beginning on Sept 7.


Mask wearing in schools is the right thing to do

Keeping students and staff safe while making sure that our schools begin the school year in person, continue in person, and end in person is PSEA’s top priority. The governor’s order is consistent with CDC guidelines and is the right thing to do if we want to safely keep schools open for in-person instruction. 

For weeks, we have been encouraging school districts to adopt mask requirements. However, only a fraction of schools are currently requiring masks. Gov. Wolf said that issuing a statewide order is the only way to ensure that every school takes this commonsense step. We agree, and we commend the governor for taking this step.

Mask wearing is challenging and frustrating, but necessary

Wearing masks can be challenging, and some members may be frustrated to learn about this mandate so close to the start of the year. Many of us were hoping enough people in our communities would get the COVID-19 vaccines and that the virus would stop spreading. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. 

We learned a lot from our experiences last year, and many of you have shared that the most important thing we can do is keep our schools open for in-person learning.

Mask wearing is a simple and proven way to keep students learning in person

This statewide order will help keep schools open for in-person learning because fewer students will lose valuable in-person instructional time due to quarantines or sickness. It will also help to reduce health risks for students, staff members, and our families.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health has the authority to issue a statewide mask order for K-12 schools under a state law that empowers the department to take appropriate measures to protect the public from infectious diseases.
  • PSEA supports the Wolf administration’s decision because we have been encouraging schools to adopt masking requirements so that in-person instruction can continue all year in a safe environment. 
  • The statewide mask order takes effect on Sept. 7.
  • The order requires all students, staff, and visitors in K-12 schools to wear masks in school buildings and will continue until it is lifted by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health.
  • The statewide mask order is consistent with CDC guidelines that encourage all students, staff, and visitors in K-12 schools to wear masks.
  • It will help to reduce health risks for students, staff members, and our families and reduce the likelihood of students being required to quarantine and miss in-person instruction time.
  • The order does not apply to sporting events or practices.

Let’s keep our schools open and our students learning – in person

Last year, we used maximum protective efforts – including masking – to minimize a dangerous but less contagious COVID-19 variant.

Reports of schools in other states shutting down or quarantining large numbers of students because of the more contagious Delta variant show that it is just too risky to teach students in person with dramatically fewer protections than we used last year.

This isn’t a choice between masking or not masking. It is a choice between keeping schools open for in-person learning or forcing far too many students to learn from the other side of a screen.

As always, thank you for everything you do.

PSEA President
Rich Askey

400 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

This content is intended for PSEA members and their immediate families.

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