Aug 31, 2021 - Health

Pennsylvania issues indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools

Picture of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Photo: Pete Bannan/ MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday announced that masks will be required inside K-12 school buildings.

The big picture: The move is a reversal from his initial stance earlier this month, when he said he wanted to leave the decision on mask requirements to individual school districts, citing guidance from the CDC, which "strongly recommend" the practice: "They're not mandating it, and neither am I."

State of play: The mask order will go into effect on Sept. 7.

  • In addition to K-12 school buildings, early learning programs and child care providers will also be required to wear masks indoors.
  • Pennsylvania's new mandate will not apply to school sports or outdoor activities.

What he's saying: "The science is clear. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and dangerous to the unvaccinated, many of whom are children too young to receive the vaccine. Requiring masks in schools will keep our students safer and in the classroom, where we all want them to be," Wolf said.

  • "I preferred for local school boards to make this decision. Unfortunately, an aggressive nationwide campaign is spreading misinformation about mask-wearing and pressuring and intimidating school districts to reject mask policies that will keep kids safe and in school," he added.

By the numbers: As of Aug. 31, Pennsylvania has reported a total of 1,083,545 coronavirus cases and 28,235 confirmed deaths, according to government data.

  • Cases in the state have slowly been increasing since early July.
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