(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf implored legislative leaders on Wednesday to enact a statewide mask mandate in public schools.
In a letter to the leaders of the four legislative caucuses, Wolf said he’s heard from worried parents of younger children unable to be vaccinated and the American Academy of Pediatrics about lacking mask mandates in school districts.
By his administration’s count, fewer than 13% of the 474 submitted health plans from districts include universal masking policies.
“It is clear that action is needed to ensure children are safe as they return to school,” he said in the letter, first obtained by Spotlight PA.
READ MORE — The smarmy K-12 mask crusade
Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended universal masking for students in public schools. Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam encouraged Pennsylvania districts to follow that guidance, but stopped short of mandating it herself because she fears legislative retaliation against her department and its response capabilities.
The plea will likely go ignored by the Republican leaders that control each chamber and many of their members who believe it’s up to the parents, not school board members, to decide what’s best.
“The parents we have heard from simply want a choice – not a mandate,” said a group of Republican lawmakers from suburban districts near Harrisburg in a letter to school superintendents and board presidents sent Monday. “They are the ones who seen the direct impact that last school year and mandated masks had on their children.”
‘The parents we have heard from simply want a choice – not a mandate.’
Wolf said these sentiments, as well as insinuations that school boards lack the authority to mandate masks, are little more than “misinformation being spread to discredit districts clear ability to implement masking … and the premise of local control being usurped by the treat – implicit or explicit – of political consequences for making sound public health and education decisions.”
The Senate is scheduled to return to session Sept. 20, while the House will return the following week.
Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.