As of Sept. 7, masks are required indoors in all public schools and childcare centers across the Commonwealth. Gov. Tom Wolf and state Department of Health Secretary Allison Beam announced they were issuing the mandate just days after most schools began a new academic year. Secretary Beam said she was invoking Pennsylvania’s Disease Prevention and Control Law to authorize the requirement – an action that was immediately decried by numerous Republican lawmakers who responded that these decisions should be made at the local level.
In the days that followed, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre; Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford; two private Christian schools and parents in three public school districts filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against the administration for failing to go through the state’s regulatory review process and circumventing constitutional amendments that were approved by voters in May limiting the executive branch’s emergency powers. The state House is also re-convening this fall earlier than originally scheduled, reportedly to debate and possibly take action against the mask mandate.
The administration contends that the mandate was issued after inaction by local school boards and lawmakers, whom the governor had previously urged to pass a school mask mandate.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the masking order and the court has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, Sept. 16.