School mask mandate: Appeal keeps it in place despite Pennsylvania judge’s ruling

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s school mask mandate remains in place, even after a judge ruled Wednesday that it is “void and unenforceable.”

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration quickly filed an appeal to Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon’s ruling, and that stopped the mandate from being overturned.

Cannon’s decision came after parents filed a lawsuit over the order, which was handed down by Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam. Cannon found that Beam did not have the authority to issue the regulation.

The order imposed a masking requirement on teachers, students, staff and visitors at the state’s schools. It went into effect in early September.

In a 31-page opinion, the Commonwealth Court said the decision was not based on the effectiveness of masks -- but on how the mandate was issued.

The opinion said Beam did not follow state rule-making requirements.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf had announced that his administration planned to turn over decisions about masking to local school officials on Jan. 17.

Physician’s Response to Judge’s Ruling

Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca spoke to Internal Medicine Physician, Dr. Brian Lamb with Allegheny Health Network, about what lifting the mask mandate could mean for the spread of COVID-19.

“We can’t just give up, and say life is back to normal. If we do that, we are going to see more people get sick, and more people die. And that’s the truth when it comes down to it,” Lamb said.

For a week, children 5-11 years old have been eligible for the vaccine, but he doesn’t think that’s long enough to lift the mask mandate in schools.

He is pleading parents to encourage their students to continue wearing masks in the classroom.

“Please make the right decision for your child, not the right decision for you and your beliefs. What’s the right decision for your child to keep them safe? Wear the mask if they can,” Lamb said.