Gov. Wolf asks legislature to approve school mask mandate

Written by on August 26, 2021

Gov. Wolf asks legislature to approve school mask mandate

By Sam Dunklau / WITF

August 26, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvania’s legislature to quickly approve a new statewide mask mandate for schools because his administration is worried that students returning to schools are going back to an unsafe environment.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health has repeatedly said while it endorses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for everyone in schools to wear masks this fall, the state will not force school districts to do that.

Several dozen out of 500 districts already have a masking requirement in place.

But Wolf says to keep all students learning in-person, the best thing the Republican-led legislature can do is require masks in all schools — and fast.

Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesperson Chris Lilienthal agrees:

“If the virus starts spreading through a school like wildfire, that school is gonna have to close down and we’re gonna have to go back to a remote learning environment, which nobody wants,” Lilienthal said.

Jason Gottesman, press secretary and House Republican Caucus spokesperson, said his caucus doesn’t support that idea, arguing any decision on masks should be left to school districts.

“What’s going on in Philadelphia is much different than what’s going on in Cumberland County, which is much different than what’s going on in Mercer County. That’s why a one size fits all approach has never been appropriate and these decisions should be made on the local level based upon what is happening on the ground,” Gottesman said.  

Wolf can’t implement a school mask mandate on his own without legislative approval, thanks to a new constitutional amendment approved by voters in the spring. 


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