Lawmakers, some local parents, disagree over school mask mandate – Daily Local


DOWNTOWN – Some parents in Chester County are ready to have the masks come off their children at school.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced his administration plans to return the K-12 school mask requirement to local leaders on January 17.

Governor Tom Wolf this week appealed a Commonwealth Court ruling overturning the state’s mandate requiring students, teachers and staff to wear face masks in schools in Pennsylvania. The appeal, most likely to the state’s Supreme Court, will temporarily put the abolition of the mask’s controversial mandate on hold.

Wolf’s will challenge the court’s majority finding that Health Secretary Alison Beam did not have the legal authority to issue the mask warrant in August as a measure to try to contain the spread of COVID-19. Wolf announced he would hand over authority over masking decisions to local school districts in January, but intended to continue masking in daycares and early learning programs.

Before the state enacted the mask requirement for all students in late August before returning from school for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the majority of communities in Pennsylvania had announced plans to allow masks to be an option for students rather than a term. The exceptions, the places where mask warrants were mandatory, were the majority of school districts in the state’s greater Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, by contrast.

U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th of Easttown, said hiding students for now allows them to stay in school safely.

“As a former educator and parent, I know the importance of keeping our schools open so that our children can have the best education possible,” she said. “The students and parents are eager and happy to be back in class. Wearing masks and getting vaccinated allows us all to take care of each other and stay in class. “

Houlahan continued, “We know that every community faces different challenges, and this announcement gives local school boards the flexibility to make the best decisions for their students. As we continue to recover, we must remain vigilant and united as public health guidelines change in order to provide a quality education for every student. “

State Representative Craig Williams, Chadds Ford’s R-160th, argued in August for the decision to be left to the local level rather than state mandated.

“School district-specific data for the entire Commonwealth is essential for these decisions to be made locally,” Williams said Aug. 27. “The lack of data at the school district level is particularly evident in Delaware County.”

However, the Wolf administration finally chose to impose masks for all students, as well as for children in day care centers, at the end of August. The order is due to expire on January 17th. The Wolf administration said this week that when the state-wide mandate expires, local school officials will once again be able to implement mitigation efforts at the local level. However, the administration added, the comprehensive order requiring children to be masked will remain in effect for preschool learning programs and child care providers until further notice.

It’s just another false sense of ‘freedom of choice’ that is being granted, ”said Kelly Callahan, a West Pikeland resident, a mother whose family lives in the Downingtown School District.

“I predict they will push all students aged 5 to 11 to get vaccinated, otherwise they will require them to be masked,” Callahan said, “further perpetuating segregation while moving the goalposts – once what’s more.

West Chester students are back to school and a mandatory mask policy is in place. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

In Chester County, many lawmakers were in favor of the governor’s mask mandate passed before the start of the new school year late last summer.

“The mask mandate was put in place at the start of the school year to protect children from COVID-19 as they were not eligible for vaccinations,” said Representative Dan Williams, D-74th of Sadsbury. “Since that time, vaccines have been approved for children aged 5 to 11. Therefore, this decision makes sense if children get immunized and if immunization rates increase to protect our communities. I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated in the next 10 weeks to beat this virus, protect our children and help us all get back to a normal lifestyle. “

West Bradford resident Melanie Lewis is the mother of boys who attend the Downingtown School District. She is also the co-founder of UnMa $ k Chester County, which has 2.2,000 private group members on Facebook.

Of Wolf’s announcement this week, Lewis said, “He never had any power over children’s ability to breathe. Now that the elections have passed, they are giving him time to show some distance between November 2 and January 1 as they try to win Josh Shapiro and the Democrats still hold the governor’s house, ”he said. she said about politicians.

“It was never about looking after the kids,” Lewis said. “Let’s be clear on this. “

“There has been a steady decline in weekly cases of COVID among school-aged children in Pennsylvania since the end of September,” said Chris Lilienthal, assistant director of communications for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “Vaccines are now more widely available, including for children 5 years and older. With all of this in mind, it makes sense to start planning for a return to greater normalcy in our schools. We very much hope that the cases of COVID will continue to decrease in the coming weeks and that we can arrive at a place where we can ensure the safety and health of everyone without wearing masks in schools every day. “

Lilienthal said that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania State Education Association has encouraged school districts in Pennsylvania to follow the advice of medical experts to keep our students, staff and their families safe. at school.

“The evidence for the effectiveness of masking has been so clearly demonstrated over the past three months in schools that we are confident that local school leaders will take the necessary steps at the local level to preserve in-person education,” Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison said. Beam on Monday.

In fact, West Pikeland physiologist Shannon Grady called Beam’s statement a “lie. There is no proof in Pennsylvania that masking in schools is “effective” as all schools require masks in Pennsylvania with virtually no exemptions or exceptions allowed. “

Grady said the acting health secretary “doesn’t know how to conduct a basic scientific study to compare a control group to the masked group to see if, in fact, the masks are“ effective. ”In fact, this data on states across the country and around the world report that places that do not have a mask warrant have the lowest number of cases. ”

Those with masking policies have a higher caseload, Grady said.

“The powers of the governor have been stripped by (electoral referendum in the spring), so he does not have the power to impose masks,” Grady said. “This administration has not followed the science or the data to support any of its decisions, mandates or mitigation strategies to prevent the disease.”

Grady has spoken publicly against hiding children at several Downingtown School District Board meetings.

“Wearing a mask and obstructing the air flow for 40 hours a week is harmful to children,” Grady said. I personally know many children who have suffered from various health issues related to wearing masks, such as dizziness, migraines, asthma, sinusitis, vocal cord dysfunction, increased respiratory disease, anxiety, and depression.

She said the National Institutes of Health, the country’s medical research agency, published a meta-analysis of the research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which found that the masks caused the following conditions : increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, advanced renal failure, obesity, cardiopulmonary dysfunction, asthma, neuromuscular diseases, epilepsy, vocal cord disorders, rhinitis and obstructive diseases, acne, migraines, headaches, decrease immune system and increased risk of cancer.

As to the impact of long-term mask wear on children, Grady said there would be “various physical and mental conditions in the short and long term.”

Grady added: “Many parents also report disturbances in the learning of their young children, unable to see the mouths of their teachers.”

“If these terms continue, parents will continue to look for other options for their children’s education,” said Beth Ann Rosica, who recently ran for mayor of West Chester as a libertarian candidate. “Those who have the means will continue to leave and those who have no choice will be left with few options. Mandates create problems, they do not solve them.

Rosica said she did not approve of Wolf’s plan because it should never have been implemented in the first place.

“Decisions about masking should not be made by the state government,” Rosica said. “The governor via the health secretary should not have imposed the ordering of masks statewide. Pennsylvania is a large state with very different circumstances in each county. The secretary’s order did not take into account regional differences. He first said he would not issue a statewide mask warrant, and then three weeks later he issued the warrant saying the districts were not doing what he wanted. This is unacceptable. “

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Dave White of Delaware County said the school mask mandate was overbroad by the government.

“For 18 months, the Wolf administration has exceeded expectations time and time again with terms it simply does not have the power to institute,” he said. “Today’s overwhelming Commonwealth Court ruling is a victory for parents and students, and a clear rebuke of Governor Wolf’s tough policies on the COVID pandemic. Governor Wolf’s end of the constitutional amendment limiting his authority has not worked, and it is a step forward in bringing executive power back to its constitutionally prescribed limits.

Of the 74 million children living in the United States, 680 have died after suffering from exposure to COVID-19 since 2020. The majority of those 680 deaths included children who had underlying health conditions, according to the CDC, the national public health agency of the United States.

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