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HARRISBURG, PA (August 18, 2021) – Emphasizing that mask wearing in K-12 schools is essential to keeping in-person learning going all year, the Pennsylvania State Education Association today urged K-12 schools to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and require students and staff members to wear masks in school buildings so that every school in the state can start the school year in person, continue in person, and finish in person.
PSEA President Rich Askey issued the following statement on that topic:
“Masking up is essential to keeping in-person learning going all year. We know that safe in-person instruction is the best setting for students to learn. For that reason, PSEA wants to see every school in the state start the school year in person, continue in person, and finish in person. That will be impossible if schools have to close their doors because of a rapid spread of this virus.
“That is why PSEA strongly encourages every school district in Pennsylvania to require students and staff to wear masks in school buildings as part of a multi-layered approach to keeping our schools safe and open for in-person instruction, along with other measures like social distancing and promoting vaccination where possible.
“On Aug. 5, the CDC issued guidance encouraging students and staff to wear masks in school buildings. We strongly urge district leaders across the commonwealth to follow the CDC guidance and adopt universal masking policies for the new school year.
“Masking up at school is essential in the face of the surging Delta variant that affects young people more aggressively than the original strain of the virus. This is a particular concern when you consider that roughly two-thirds of students have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are at a crossroads, and what our schools decide now will set the stage for what this school year looks like. If we’re going to be able to keep our schools open for in-person instruction all year, we need to make the right decisions now.”
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.