In the wake of this week’s Wolf administration mandate that Pennsylvania students wear a mask during much of the school day, Rep. Tina Pickett (Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) today sent a letter to the secretaries of Health and Education requesting more consistent guidance for school leaders as they prepare for the start of the new academic year.
The letter was co-signed by 41 of Pickett’s colleagues in the House of Representatives, including Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (Centre/Mifflin).
“This mandate is not what our children, parents and school officials needed when looking to the administration for consistency and certainty in reopening for in-person learning,” wrote Pickett. “For months, both lawmakers and school officials have asked for guidance on how to reopen safely. Instead, your departments have issued conflicting and contradictory guidance and mandates, often late in the stages of preparation.”
The mandate requires that students returning to in-person learning wear a mask at all times with limited exceptions. Schools may allow students to remove face coverings when eating or drinking when spaced at least six feet apart; when wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task; or when at least six feet apart during “face-covering breaks” of up to 10 minutes.
“Moving forward, we request that any guidance on reopening prioritize local control, reopening schools to in-person education, and clarity and certainty for school leaders,” Pickett added. “We trust you will work with us – and not against us – in attaining these shared goals.”