Bucks County School Districts, Parents Split Over Gov. Wolf’s Decision To End School Mask Mandate In January

LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) — Mandatory masking in Pennsylvania schools may soon be a thing of the past. As more children become vaccinated, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state will allow school districts to set their own mask rules come January.

Mandatory masking in Pennsylvania schools could be a thing of the past come the new year. On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state will no longer require masks in schools as of Jan. 17.

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But once again, this debate is proving to be far from over.

The Neshaminy School District was prepared to go back to school this fall without masks, only to have to change course one week before classes began. Now, they worry this latest announcement will create even more confusion.

“Like anything else, I believe it when I see it,” Neshaminy School Board President Stephen Pirritano said.

After Pennsylvania reversed course, requiring face coverings for all K-12 public schools back on Sept. 7, the governor’s announcement Monday to drop that order come Jan. 17 still has Neshaminy school leaders planning for class with and without masks.

“We will prepare for both because Jan. 17 isn’t that far away, but it is,” Pirritano said.

Last year, cases spiked as many gathered for the holidays.

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“If they see an uptick, I suppose they’ll probably pull back,” Pirritano said.

Bucks County has been one of the most contentious counties still practically debating the mandate, including Pennridge Schools, where the board there told parents in a letter they believe “the governor exceeded authority.”

“Do we trust them to have public health in mind instead of their political views in mind? No, we do not trust them,” Pennridge parent Stephanie Regina said.

Within Council Rock, where parents have been notified their child came in “close contact to an individual who tested positive” less than two weeks ago, this potential change comes as many are still quarantining.

“I just think it’s very premature, we’re in November. To see what’s going to happen in January, we need to see what’s going to happen in January,” Council Rock parent Rachel Rosner Handfinger said.

Proving that even if the mandate ends, the debate likely won’t.

“Like anything else, you have to find that balance. You have to find what is going to promote the best educational environment in the schools. That’s number one,” Pirritano said.

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According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as of Nov. 2, more than 2,200 Bucks County students ages 5-18 have tested positive for COVID.

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