Lancaster school provides mask mandate grace period to allow time for medical exemptions


LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The Governor’s mask mandate may have been intended to put a stop to the debate about masks in schools, and one that’s been raging for months across the Midstate, but that debate has only intensified.

Penn Manor is one Lancaster County school district that approved a grace period meant to give families adequate time to see a doctor and get the paperwork necessary for an exemption.

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School officials say that’s not meant to violate the state’s mandate, though the Wolf administration says any district offering a grace period is in violation.

But who will enforce that?

Not the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office, who says in a statement: “I do not anticipate that law enforcement will be called upon to enforce this new Order, however, this afternoon we issued guidance to law enforcement reiterating our policies and goals relative to the previous Orders issued in May (where this office specifically advised we will not prosecute any citations for alleged criminal violations of the Governor’s Order) and November (where we reiterated that the goal should be to gain compliance through engagement and education regarding the need to ensure public safety).”

With many parents seeking exemptions, a Lebanon County doctor is offering what he calls a “community service.” On the website for heritage family health, doctor Joel Yeager provides an exemption form, on official letterhead, that parents can download and turn into their schools.

“I think it’s dangerous, and I don’t think the school should be OK’ing that form either,” Kerri Michnya, Lancaster County parent, said.

abc27 reached out to Dr. Yeager for comment and he was unavailable. However, doctors at Penn Medicine we spoke to believe the only time mask exemptions should be issued is in the case of severe and documented physical, mental or cognitive disabilities.

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