Gov Wolf Announces Mask Mandate For PA Schools

Neshaminy School District students wearing masks in the hallway. Photo via NSD.

Masks will be mandatory in Pennsylvania schools starting next week.

The mandate will go into effect September 7, the day after Labor Day. It applies to all private and public schools K-12, as well as child care facilities.

Masking will not be required for student athletes while they are playing.

Governor Tom Wolf made the announcement at a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“My office has received an outpouring of messages from parents asking the administration to protect all children by requiring masks in schools,” said Wolf. “The science is clear. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and dangerous to the unvaccinated, many of whom are children too young to receive the vaccine.”

Governor Tom Wolf visits the Bristol Wharf. Photo by Rick Rickman.

It’s a complete reversal from Wolf’s previous policy allowing local school officials to make decisions on masking. The governor said earlier this month he would not require masks in schools.

“I think the school districts in Pennsylvania have to decide what they want to do,” said Wolf on August 6, 2021. “The CDC guidelines ‘strongly recommend’ that schools do that. They’re not mandating it, and neither am I.”

Wolf cited “misinformation” as the reason for the change in policy.

“I 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.”

Several school boards in Bucks County have voted within the last few weeks to make masking optional.

In Lower Bucks, the Council Rock and Bensalem school districts started Monday with mask optional policies. Further north, the Central Bucks, Pennridge, and Quakertown school districts started the same way.

Meantime, the Neshaminy School District board voted to have masks mandatory for the first month of school. Bucks County Technical High School also just changed its policy Monday night from required masks to a recommendation.

The announcement comes just days after Republican leaders in the legislature denied Wolf’s call for a mask law.