PA Dept. of Education updates guidance for when students can remove masks in school

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) –The Department of Education updated its guidance for when students can remove face coverings during school.

As of Monday, Aug. 17, the Department of Education says schools may allow students to remove face coverings under three circimstances.

Face coverings can be removed when students are at least 6 feet apart during “face-covering breaks” that last no longer than 10 minutes.

Masks can also be removed when eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart or when wearing a face-covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

According to the Department of Health, a “face covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face.

On July 1, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings. This order applies to all students, staff and visitors age two and older while in school entities.

For answers to FAQs on the Universal Face Coverings Order, visit education.pa.gov.

In response, Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus Spokesperson Jason Gottesman, made the following comment:

“While children and educators should feel free to wear a mask if they feel it is appropriate for their own safety or the safety of others, the statewide, unilateral mandate that students wear masks at all times while in school is another last-minute impediment to schools finalizing their reopening plans and goes against the principle of local control over school reopening that Gov. Wolf has touted for months.

“School leaders, operating under the assurance that they have local control over how to reopen their schools, have gone through painstaking measures to ensure social distancing in the classroom to keep students and educators safe in accordance with months-long standing guidance from the Departments of Health and Education. This late-coming statewide, unilateral mandate was issued after some schools have already opened and throws unnecessary confusion into an already on-going process.”

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