Local school districts debate mask mandates in classroom

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in most of the Midstate with mainly cases of the highly contagious delta variant.

Even so, many school districts are grappling with whether to require masks in schools.

There are parents on both sides of the issue, with some begging school boards to mandate masks and others pleading to have a choice.

At Shippensburg Area School District, the board voted last week to require masks, but after public uproar, the board will take another vote Monday night.

South Middleton will also have a meeting Monday to decide.

Decisions have already been made in Lower Dauphin and Central York but we’re told parents plan to attend meetings on Monday.

In Central York many parents want a mask mandate, instead of it being optional.

On multiple occasions, both the secretaries of health and education have repeated that there will be no statewide mask mandate, but rather it’s up to individual districts to decide.

“It’s our recommendation that we align ourselves to what’s being done with the CDC. In terms of authority, this is really authority rested at the local level in school boards where the decision is happening,” said Pa. Education Secretary Noe Ortega.

“You can do what we want and give us a choice, but the fact is, even if you don’t, most of us are going to send our kids to school without masks,” one parent said to the Shippensburg Area School District board.

On Monday the Wolf administration will announce two new initiatives to support schools and preserve in-person education and sports during the pandemic. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will join the discussion virtually.

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