Two PA Senators propose letting parents ‘opt out’ of mask mandates in schools

Local News

(WTAJ) — Senator Judy Ward announced that she is sponsoring a plan, along with Doug Mastriano, to allow parents to ‘opt out’ of mask mandates while Governor Wolf is allowing the mask decision up to each individual school district.

In response to Gov. Wolf ruling out a mask requirement for schools as the academic year is about to begin, saying he’ll leave the decision to school districts, Sen. Ward said she has heard various concerns about masks in schools from people in her [30th] District.

“The parents that I hear from every day have concerns about masking and the long-term effects on learning and their children’s health,” Ward said in a release.

The Senator emphasized that masking should be a decision handled by local school boards with parents having a say due to possible concerns.

“I have heard from parents of children with special needs who use facial cues in order to understand and work,” Senator Ward said. “I am concerned about what is being done to address their needs as masking continues to be discussed.”

The plan will allow parents and legal guardians to “opt out” their children from having to comply with a school’s mask mandate. The bill would mandate all school districts to develop (and abide by) a form that will allow parents or legal guardians to sign off on “opting out” their child.

Both the Department of Health and the Department of Education emphasized that Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations should be followed, including those calling for universal masking of students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam indicated the Wolf Administration supports the CDC recommendation and is asking school districts to follow it; however, the administration has no plans to institute a statewide mask mandate.

According to Beam, only 12% of new COVID-19 cases are being seen in children and teens under the age of 18 at this time.

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