HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is urging schools teaching students K-12 to follow the CDC’s most recent guidance and implement universal mask-wearing.

PSEA says with the recent surges across the state, it’s important to wear masks in school to be able to spend the entire academic year in person.

“Masking up is essential to keeping in-person learning going all year. We know that safe in-person instruction is the best setting for students to learn. For that reason, PSEA wants to see every school in the state start the school year in person, continue in person, and finish in person. That will be impossible if schools have to close their doors because of a rapid spread of this virus,” PSEA President Rich Askey said.

Masks have become a hot topic in school board meetings across the nation, with some parents saying it’s a personal choice to have their child wear a mask. Others are saying mask-wearing will continue to keep everyone safe, especially young children who cannot be vaccinated.

“Masking up at school is essential in the face of the surging Delta variant that affects young people more aggressively than the original strain of the virus. This is a particular concern when you consider that roughly two-thirds of students have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine. We are at a crossroads, and what our schools decide now will set the stage for what this school year looks like. If we’re going to be able to keep our schools open for in-person instruction all year, we need to make the right decisions now,” Askey said.

At the beginning of the month, the CDC sent out new guidance saying areas with substantial to high spread of COVID-19 should go back to wearing masks in congregate settings, even those that are vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci later told reporters that students and teachers should wear masks in schools, however, the Pa. Department of Health said they would not issue a new mandate and will leave it to local school districts to decide.