School District reacts to Gov. Wolf’s mask mandate

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HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)- Huntingdon School District lets out a sigh of relief for Governor Wolf’s universal mask mandate across the state. The District voted already on having the mandate Monday.

The new mandate applies to all students and staff in K-12 grade schools, early learning programs, and child care centers to wear masks indoors at all times. This rule does not apply to any outdoor sports or activities.

Interim Huntingdon School District Superintendent Tonya Devecchis-Kerr says she’s glad the school district was ahead of the mandate, and this will help students be safe.

“It was definitely a feeling of relief,” Devecchis-Kerr said. “It’s been very difficult for local school districts to be able to make that decision because its been so contentious with groups being so divided.”

Huntingdon schools held an optional day for masks on Tuesday and will initiate their full mask mandate Wednesday. After Wolf’s mandate was passed, the Devecchis-Kerr says she’s received negative calls from parents saying they disagree. She thinks this will be a challenging mandate to enforce.

“I’m not sure it’s going to get better with the contention of wearing masks and not wearing masks,” Devecchis said. “Since the governor made his announcement today, I’ve had a parent say, ‘not going to happen; my child is not wearing a mask.”

Some parents also say that they won’t put masks until the state mandate goes into full effect at 12:01 a.m. on September 7. Devecchis-Kerr says they want to encourage students to switch to online learning if they chose not to wear any masks.

“All students need to be protected,” Devecchis-Kerr said. “If it’s going to be a chronic problem, then we will encourage doing our online virtual program.”

There is no timeline for when the mandate is expected to end. The Wolf administration said in the conference that they would revisit the topic no later than the first week of October.

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