Pennsylvania children scored a victory as the state’s high court tossed out the statewide school mask mandate.
The decision by the justices invalidates the Wolf Administration’s illegal statewide mask mandate for K-12 school buildings and child care facilities.
The court upheld a lower-court decision that determined Governor Wolf’s acting health secretary issued the mandate without legal authorization.
BREAKING: A huge victory for Pennsylvania parents who sued Gov. Tom Wolf's administration. AP reports: Pennsylvania high court throws out mask mandate for schools
— Tony A. Phyrillas (@TonyPhyrillas) December 10, 2021
AP: The PA Supreme Court has thrown out the K-12 school mask mandate https://t.co/geiGHp6pXs
— Charlie Wolfson (@chwolfson) December 10, 2021
However, the justices have yet to provide a written opinion and that will determine how school districts and individual schools adjust their mask policies.
JUST IN: The justices announced the decision but have not yet issued a written opinion that explains their reasoning.https://t.co/N4kze0ewQK
— WTAJ News (@WTAJnews) December 10, 2021
Wolf press secretary Beth Rementer described the decision as “extremely disappointing.”
“The administration recognizes that many school districts want to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff, and we are hopeful they will make appropriate mitigation decisions moving forward,” Rementer said.
She urged districts to prioritize health and safety, calling masks “a proven and simple way to keep kids in school without interruption and participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.”
The justices upheld the decision that Alison Beam, the acting health secretary, didn’t follow state laws to enact regulations and acted without the governor declaring a public emergency.
“The decision will be left to the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, with respect to what to do with the implications of this order,” said Thomas W. King III, a lawyer for the Republican lawmakers, school districts, schools and parents who sued to challenge it.
AP highlighted what this means for Pennsylvania school districts moving forward:
King, who has advised against mask mandates, said school boards will have to consult their own lawyers about what policy to now adopt. As of the end of July, 59 of 474 school districts submitted plans to the state Education Department that mandated masks for the current school year.
“This is a great day in Pennsylvania for the rule of law,” King said. “The Supreme Court has proved that no one is above the law, and that includes the secretary of health or the governor.”
While it’s fantastic the PA Supreme Court reeled in the governor and acting health secretary, I’m curious about the direction taken by local authorities.
How many school districts will continue to impose illegal, anti-science mask mandates on their children?
And how many put the freedom into the hands of the parents?
That remains a mystery until the PA Supreme Court’s written opinion.
But in the meantime, Pennsylvania residents should petition the state legislature to outlaw mask mandates.
The recent legislation passed in Florida provides a solid framework to model for legislators fighting against child abuse in the school system.