HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued an order requiring all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks in K-12 school buildings, beginning on Sept. 7.
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) President Rich Askey issued the following statement:
“PSEA supports the Wolf administration’s order today requiring universal masking in all K-12 school buildings.
“Months ago, PSEA said a full, safe return to in-person instruction should be our top priority for the 2021-22 school year. Masking up in our schools is a simple, proven way to help make that a reality.
“Last year, we used maximum protective efforts – including masking – to minimize the spread of a dangerous but less contagious COVID-19 variant. Reports of schools in other states shutting down or quarantining large numbers of students because of the more contagious Delta variant show that it is just too risky to teach students in person with dramatically fewer protections than we used last year.
“This isn’t a choice between masking or not masking. It is a choice between keeping schools open for in-person learning or forcing far too many students to learn from the other side of a screen.
“Making sure that our schools can safely begin the school year in person, continue in person, and end in person continues to be PSEA’s top priority. We know that is the best learning environment for Pennsylvania’s students. That’s why it is so important to follow CDC guidance and put universal masking policies in place as students return to school.
“Universal masking in schools will reduce serious health risks for students, staff, and their families, help keep students in the classroom, and significantly reduce unnecessary interruptions to in-person learning.”
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.