Pennsylvania mask mandate in schools takes effect

A lawsuit filed Friday is challenging the mandate
Health Secretary Alison Beam
Photo credit Commonwealth Media Services

People inside Pennsylvania K-12 schools, early learning centers and other child care providers are now required to wear a mask as part of an order by the Pennsylvania Health Department.

The mandate, announced last week, comes as COVID-19 cases spike across the country.

During the announcement, state leaders said masking, along with vaccinations and social distancing continues to be the best way to keep kids in classrooms.

"[They'll] help our schools reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect their communities, keep students and educators where we know it's vital for them to be," said Noe Ortega, State Secretary of Education.

Some state leaders, schools and parents are pushing back against the order with legal action.

Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre), Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford), two private Christian schools and parents in the Wyomissing Area, Butler Area and Slippery Rock Area School Districts filed a lawsuit against the state health department.

The lawsuit claims State Health Secretary Alison Beam's order isn't legal because it didn't go through the state's review process.

A spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf said the secretary's authority is “clearly outlined in existing law.”