What to Know
- The Central Bucks, Bensalem and Pennridge school districts in Bucks County have announced that masks are now optional for their students.
- The decisions came after a statewide mask mandate for Pennsylvania school children was thrown out by the state Supreme Court.
- The Bensalem School District said the decision does not apply to passengers and drivers on school buses who must still wear masks under federal law.
Several school districts in Bucks County announced that face coverings are now optional for their students after a statewide mask mandate for Pennsylvania school children was thrown out by the state Supreme Court.
The Pennridge School District announced Saturday that masks are now optional for their students while the large Central Bucks School District (which has more than 18,000 students) and Bensalem School District made their announcements on Sunday.
The Bensalem School District also said the decision does not apply to passengers and drivers on school buses who must still wear masks under federal law. It also does not change how the district responds to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in schools or how they report data to the Bucks County Department of Health.
Schooling in a Pandemic
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices announced their decision to invalidate the Wolf administration's statewide mandate for masks inside K-12 school buildings and child care facilities but did not issue a written opinion that explains their reasoning.
They upheld a lower-court decision that the mandate was imposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's acting health secretary without legal authorization.
The court took action amid a statewide surge in new infections and hospitalizations. Pennsylvania is reporting an average of 7,571 infections per day, up over 20% in two weeks. Hospitalizations have risen 55% since mid-November, to an average of more than 4,000 per day, and acute-care facilities are becoming overwhelmed.
Wolf press secretary Beth Rementer described the decision as “extremely disappointing.”
The mask mandate took effect in early September. Wolf announced in November he intended to return authority over masking decisions to local school districts in January, but would continue to require masks in child care centers and early learning programs.
Not all schools decided to immediately ditch mask requirements as the Philadelphia, Upper Darby, Upper Dublin and West Chester school districts are keeping mask mandates in place, for now.
The best bet before you send your child to school is to check with your district about what the latest rules are.
Mask mandates remain in place for students in New Jersey and Delaware.