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United Way of Lancaster County


Pa. Supreme Court annuls K-12 school mask mandate

(Source: School District of Lancaster)

(Source: School District of Lancaster)
(Source: School District of Lancaster)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday issued an order rescinding the statewide K-12 mask mandate.

The order upholds a Commonwealth Court decision that determined acting Health Secretary Alison Beam did not have the authority to issue the mask mandate unilaterally without going through a regulatory review process.

The Supreme Court did not immediately issue an opinion explaining its order but said one would be forthcoming.

The court had heard arguments in the case on Wednesday.

The practical impact of the justices' decision thus remains somewhat unclear, but it appears likely that school districts would have at least some latitude to allow unmasked in-person instruction.

A spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf said the ruling is "extremely disappointing."

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the Supreme Court's decision " victory for parents and communities whose opinions have been ignored by the Wolf Administration for far too long."

Corman said the ruling restores "the power for parents and local leaders to make health and safety decisions in our schools ... That power comes with an obligation to review the facts and act in the best interests of our communities."

Covid-19 remains an ongoing public health risk in Pennsylvania. Statewide case counts rose from 37,230 last week to 41,144 over the past seven days, according to the Health Department's Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard. Hospitalizations rose 12% over the same period, and there were 654 Covid-19 deaths over the seven-day period ending Monday.

In Lancaster County, LNP reports, Covid-19 hospitalizations are close to record levels, and hospitals are increasingly diverting patients.