Top Pennsylvania court kills school mask mandate for kids

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Pennsylvania kids may not have to mask up in class anymore, after a top court killed a statewide requirement for students to do so.

The edict, which took effect in September, was declared unconstitutional because acting state Health Secretary Alison Beam didn’t have the authority to require masks without an emergency declaration from Gov. Tom Wolf, courts found.

Individual school districts will still be allowed to set their own COVID-19 policies, but the state can’t force them to mask up.

The state Supreme Court has yet to issue its own opinion on the matter, instead upholding a lower court’s ruling.

In a statement, Pennsylvania Senate Leader Jake Corman said the decision was about more than just making kids wear masks in schools—it was about restoring the right to make health and safety decisions to parents and local leaders.

“It is about preventing government overreach in general,” said Corman, a Republican. “The law clearly does not give any governor or any state agency the power to create orders out of thin air in the absence of an emergency declaration and outside the regulatory review process.”

First grade students at Dunmore Elementary Center in Dunmore, Pa., wear masks on their first day of classes on Aug. 27, 2020.
“It is about preventing government overreach in general,” said Pennsylvania Senate Leader Jake Corman.
Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP

The ruling, he added, “means we will not have to deal with even more extreme, unilateral measures from the Wolf administration that devastated our economy last year, including business closures and restrictions.”

The Democratic governor’s press secretary, Beth Rementer, called the decision “extremely disappointing” and urged school districts to go ahead with mask regulations on their own.

As of July, approximately 59 of the state’s 474 school districts required masks, according to the AP.

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