Pennsylvania high court throws out mask mandate for schools

HARRISBURG — Individual school districts and childcare centers are now left with deciding how to best handle the issue of masking in their communities.

This after the PA Supreme Court struck down the Acting State Health Secretary’s mask mandate in schools and childcare centers.

The justices’ decision was announced Friday, but the court has not yet issued a full opinion that explains their reasoning.

Thomas King III is the lawyer who took Governor Wolf and his administration all the way to the State Supreme Court over mask mandates.

“It’s a great day for the rule of law in PA, King told Channel 11. “It was never about if masks were a good or bad thing - it was about whether people had to follow the law.”

King said the Supreme Court ruled the Governor and his acting Health Secretary overstepped, striking down the mask mandate.

“This whole overreaching by the administration in Harrisburg has been a common theme since the pandemic,” King added. “They locked people in their homes, they closed businesses, they imposed regulations on us.”

This has many parents, teachers, school districts and daycares asking what now?

Julie Lazzaro, a teacher, said masks are what kept students in school.

“This definitely makes me very nervous,” Lazzaro said. “If districts start to pull this, what does that look like for in person learning and for the safety of the staff and students?”

Pittsburgh Public Schools told Channel 11 masks are here to stay.

The McKeesport School District will leave the decision up to families, but says masks on buses are mandatory.

According to Lazarro, now isn’t the time with omicron and the holidays.

“Coming back after seeing extra people or maybe traveling things or doing things we haven’t done so far doesn’t seem like a great time to pull the masks,” she said.

Regardless, this is an extremely personal choice and it has parents torn.

“It’s going to be back to the local school districts to make the decisions,” King added. “They’ll have to consult with solicitors and come to the conclusion about what’s right or best for their areas.”

The Wolf Administration said its top priority has been the health and safety of everyone. The Governor continues to recommend masking in school and encourages all eligible Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated.