STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — The State College Area School District will require masks indoors for the upcoming school year, regardless of vaccination status.

Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said the district wants to keep its 7,000 students safe, especially since the district has committed to a full in person learning model instead of a hybrid.

“So if a student is quarantined they’re not going to be live remoting into that class. So that impact on that time period on that student will definitely not be beneficial to their learning and development,” said O’Donnell.

In the event that a child does need to quarantine, the district says it has a support plan in place so that no child falls behind.

While aware that differing opinions exist on the requirement, O’Donnell says they’re trying to do what’s best for the kids, even if it’s not the most ideal.

“We want to change the trend of the transmission right? Well with all the change happening in our community and the population increase next week that’s going to be nearly impossible…but we’re hopeful,” said O’Donnell.

Commissioner Michael Pipe stands with the district saying he thinks they took an appropiate step.

“I think unfortunately as we see the new variants of COVID-19 and how they are much more easily transmissible we have to recognize what are the best solutions we have available. And that’s masking, and social distancing, staying home when we’re sick and those things were true last year, they’re still true now,” said Pipe.

O’Donnell says he’d like to make it clear the masking they have in place does not include recess or any outdoor experiences.

“We’re going to do our best to work through this because we’re not done with this pandemic at this point and we want to make sure we have a better school year this year than we had last year. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to start out on the right foot,” said O’Donnell.

The school board originally voted to make masks required for unvaccinated students in July.

Over 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to date and 63.8% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH also noted an additional 2,076 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania since Monday. Centre County is currently categorized in the “substantial” rate of transmission, according to data from the CDC.

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