Bedford County DA joins others, won’t prosecute school mask violations

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BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — After the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health put a mask mandate in place for all schools in the commonwealth, numerous district attorneys have come out to decline prosecutions, in any violations, with Bedford County being the latest to join in.

Bedford County DA Lesley Childers-Potts sent out a release saying that her office will not prosecute violations of the school mask mandate in Bedford County. All the way back in May 2020, the office of the District Attorney made it clear that non-essential businesses would not be prosecuted for opening their businesses early during the COVID-19 pandemic. Childers-Potts said there’s also no need for parents to worry as the 2021 school year begins.

“I will not authorize a citation or any criminal consequences where a child is not wearing a mask in school. The mandate, as it is currently written, is unenforceable, and there are many DAs across the state that agree on this issue. The language leaves too many exceptions and is open to too many interpretations, and is therefore much too subjective to be enforced.”

Lesley Childers-Potts, Bedford County District Attorney

Bedford County Sheriff Wayne Emrick shared his supports with the decision saying he agrees that the mandate is vague and unenforceable and will not be sending any of his deputies to schools to issue any citations for violations of the mandate.

The District Attorney stressed that her refusal to prosecute only applies to criminal liability with the school mask mandate. It does not and cannot extend to any civil or administrative actions that can be authorized by a Governor’s Order or any sanctions handed down by school officials.

The DA and Sheriff both also stress that they cannot offer guidance on any civil or administrative penalties that may be imposed by state agencies. Those matters are beyond the standing scope of either the DAs Office or the Sheriff’s Office, Childers-Potts explained.

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