BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Blair County District Attorneys Office Tuesday evening announced that law enforcement will not issue citations or prosecute children or parents who refuse to wear face masks in Blair County schools.
The office issued a release stating their position after multiple local law enforcement and school board members contacted them requesting information and guidance regarding an order issued by the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health directing face coverings to be worn in school entities. Concerns were also reportedly raised about the possibility of imprisonment to those who fail to follow the order.
District Attorney Peter J. Weeks said criminal citations of the mask mandate are not appropriate and the office has informed law enforcement not to impose such enforcement.
“Previously in April of 2020, this Office publicly stated its position that criminal enforcement of an executively-issued mask mandate is not appropriate. At that time, we instructed law enforcement to refrain from issuing criminal summary citations based on either the Pennsylvania Disease Control and Prevention Act of 1955, 35 P.S. § 521.20(a) or the Pennsylvania Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P.S. § 1409,” said Weeks. “This office continues to maintain that directive in the face of the Governor’s new mandate to all Commonwealth schools. To the extent that either local schools, the Governor’s office, or frankly any other entity is suggesting that violations of the most recent mask mandate will result in criminal prosecutions by Blair County police and prosecutors, let me make clear: that is inaccurate.”
Weeks added that the office will not prosecute any citations issued for alleged violations of the masking order.
This statement by the DA’s Office comes as multiple school districts across Blair County held special meetings Tuesday regarding the universal mask mandate in schools. Board members heard from parents, grandparents and students expressing their concerns surrounding the order.
Protests have also occurred outside schools across Central Pennsylvania as parents say their children were turned away or segregated from others. Rallys were also reportedly held in the Williamsburg Community School District and the Tussey Mountain School District.
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The order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that went into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 7 requires students, teachers and staff to wear face masks when inside all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as child care facilities.
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