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School Mask Mandate to be Lifted

Education officials say Pennsylvania’s governor expects to let school districts modify or end the mask mandate for K-12 students in January.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf plans to announce Monday that his administration will turn over decisions about masking to local school officials on Jan. 17, according to two officials briefed on the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

They say the acting health secretary’s mask mandate will remain in place for early learning programs and child care facilities.

The Wolf administration imposed a statewide mandate in early September, citing a surge in infections and hospitalizations from the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

“The school mask order has been critical ensuring Pennsylvania’s children could safely learn and grow in an in-person classroom setting at the beginning of the school year,” said Gov. Wolf. “During the announcement, my administration made clear that we would continue to reevaluate the status of the school mask mandate. Now, we are in a different place than we were in September, and it is time to prepare for a transition back to a more normal setting.Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is now a part of our daily lives,but with the knowledge we’ve gained over the past20 months and critical tools like the vaccine at our disposal,we must take the next step forward in our recovery. With more than 70 percent of adults vaccinated in Pennsylvania and the recently expanded vaccine eligibility, I strongly encourage parents to take safety measures to protect your children and your family like getting vaccinated.”

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