HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Harrisburg School District announced a new student dress code prior to the 2023-24 school year, but recently, some parents and students have been confused about whether they are allowed to wear masks in class.

According to the school district, the following is not permitted:

  • No hooded shirts or sweatshirts
  • No tank tops, halter tops, or spaghetti string
  • No offensive graphics or images on any
  • No sheer, translucent, or lace on the torso
  • For pants, no tears or rips on pants above the
  • No visible undergarments or boxer shorts worn on
    the outside
  • Pants must not be saggy below the waist
  • For footwear – no crocs, flip-flops, slides, slippers,
    open-toed shoes or high heels above 1 inch
  • No hats, caps, bandannas, sunglasses, visors, or ski
    masks, face masks, or facial coverings.

A parent reached out to abc27, concerned about the policy’s impact on their kids’ safety with COVID cases spiking and the oncoming flu season.

The parent shared with abc27 a message sent to families of students at Marshall Math Science Academy, reminding them masks are not allowed under the district’s dress code and that students need a doctor’s note or a documented preexisting medical condition to wear them. The email also stated that students wearing masks who do not meet those requirements will be asked to remove them.

abc27 reached out to the Harrisburg School District to share the parent’s concerns, and the district updated the dress code to note that surgical masks for medical or religious reasons are permitted and must be worn correctly.

In a statement sent to abc27 News by Kirsten Keys, the public relations coordinator for the Harrisburg School District, she said, “The message was sent to Marshall Math Science Academy on September 26, 2023. In keeping with public health standards and the District’s commitment to health and safety, students and staff are always permitted to take precautions that they feel are medically necessary or for religious reasons. With regard to students, they are allowed to wear medical/surgical masks if there is a need to protect themselves and/or others from illness. Students must wear the masks correctly on their faces, this includes covering the nose and mouth. If students are not wearing their masks correctly or are using it to obscure their faces, they will be asked to remove them. A clarifying message has been issued to parents and staff at Marshall Math Science Academy.”

The district also clarified students do not need a doctor’s note in order to wear a mask.

Several factors went into the district’s original decision to end the use of uniforms and introduce a dress code: the costliness of buying both uniform clothing and casual clothing, student desire to have more choice over what to wear to school, the availability of uniform clothing in all sizes in the area, and students being excluded from school because they didn’t come to school wearing a uniform.

In a survey given to around 1,000 parents about moving away from a school uniform, about 75 percent were in favor of moving away from a school uniform.