Pennsylvania’s school mask mandate will go into effect Tuesday following Gov. Tom Wolf’s flip-flop on the issue.
The new rule, which goes into effect Tuesday, September 7, will require everyone — teachers, staff, and students — in K-12 schools to wear a mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Wolf announced the statewide school mask mandate last week, touting a Secretary of Health order requiring students to wear a face covering in school. In a statement, Wolf claimed to have received “an outpouring of messages from parents asking the administration to protect all children by requiring masks in schools.”
“The science is clear,” the Democrat governor claimed. “The Delta variant is highly transmissible and dangerous to the unvaccinated, many of whom are children too young to receive the vaccine. ”
“Requiring masks in schools will keep our students safer and in the classroom, where we all want them to be,” he said, admitting he originally “preferred for local school boards to make this decision”:
Unfortunately, an aggressive nationwide campaign is spreading misinformation about mask-wearing and pressuring and intimidating school districts to reject mask policies that will keep kids safe and in school. As we see cases among children increase in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, this is especially dangerous and challenging as we seek to keep kids in school and maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.
However, that reflected a dramatic shift from the statement he made earlier that month.
“I think the school districts in Pennsylvania have to decide what they want to do,” Wolf said at the time, dismissing a statewide mask mandate. “I think the CDC guidelines strongly recommend that schools do that. They’re not mandating it and neither am I”:
“We, along with many of our colleagues, have seen data and received firsthand accounts from our healthcare leaders on exactly what is happening in Pennsylvania and specifically in our home areas and regions for much of the summer,” Republican leaders responded at the time, noting his administration’s inconsistency and reiterating their approach of “allowing local officials to manage and respond as needed.”