Since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling last Friday, which tossed out the Wolf administration’s school masking order, local districts have begun implementing changes.
The state Supreme Court ruling supported the November ruling of a Commonwealth Court, which held that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam did not have the legal authorization to issue a statewide masking mandate.
The ruling came two days after the state Supreme Court first began hearing oral arguments in the case. The justices announced their decision on Dec. 10, but have not yet issued a written opinion to explain their reasoning.
This regaining of local control means that many districts have reverted back to their previously approved Health and Safety Plans, which allowed for optional masking for staff and students rather than mandated masking.
“We are currently following our Health and Safety Plan which has masks as being optional for our students and staff,” said Krista M. Antonis, superintendent for the Annville-Cleona School District. “This is the same plan that was board approved in August.”
Northern Lebanon School District is taking the same approach.
“We are currently following our Health and Safety Plan which has masks as being optional for our students and staff,” superintendent Gary Messinger told LebTown.
Following the state Supreme Court ruling, Cornwall-Lebanon School District sent an email to parents.
“The Cornwall-Lebanon School District will follow the guidance approved in the Health and Safety Plan on Aug. 16, 2021, by the Board of School Directors,” wrote superintendent Philip Domencic. “As a result of this decision, effective immediately, the wearing of a mask or facial covering is optional for all students, staff and visitors inside our school buildings.”
“The potential remains that the Governor could announce a 21-day emergency order and instill a mask requirement for K-12 public schools in the Commonwealth,” Domencic wrote. “If this occurs, the administration will work with our Board of School Directors and will keep our community informed as to any implications to our students, staff and community.”
“Upon the PA Supreme Court’s ruling, the Palmyra Area School District reverted to the approved Health and Safety Plan that was Board approved on July 15, 2021,” said Bernie Kepler, superintendent of Palmyra Area School District. Under that Health and Safety Plan, the wearing of masks for staff and students is also voluntary.
For Eastern Lebanon County School District, the state Supreme Court ruling didn’t change anything.
“In the ELCO School District, masks are optional for individuals in our school buildings,” said superintendent Julia Vicente. “The ELCO School Board took voting action on Nov. 15, 2021, to change the Health and Safety Plan to make masks optional in the District. The PA Supreme Court decision last week does not change current practices in the ELCO School District.”
Health and Safety Plans are available for viewing on school district websites.
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