Pennsylvania to Mandate Masks in K-12 Schools, Child Care Centers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Masks will be required in all Pennsylvania K-12 schools, Gov. Tom Wolf was set to announce Tuesday, reversing course amid a statewide COVID-19 resurgence that is filling hospital beds just as students return to class.

The Department of Health order will take effect Tuesday, Sept. 7 — the day after Labor Day — and will require students, teachers and staff to wear masks when inside, according to two people briefed on the plan. The people were not authorized to release details ahead of an official announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The order will not apply to student athletes while they’re playing, the people said. One of the people said the masking order will apply to private as well as public schools and will also apply to child care facilities.

Wolf and administration officials were scheduled to hold a news conference on COVID-19 and the schools at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Wolf declined comment when a reporter asked him about the mask mandate outside his Capitol offices Tuesday morning.

The Democratic governor took action after the Republican leaders of the House and Senate rejected his request to pass legislation requiring masks in classrooms. GOP lawmakers acknowledged that coronavirus cases are again surging across the state but insisted that local leaders were best positioned to respond to the pandemic.