Politics

Pennsylvania Supreme Court ends Gov. Tom Wolf’s school mask mandate

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania struck down the school mask mandate that had been imposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.

The ruling affirmed that of a lower authority which said that state health officials did not have the authority to set a broad requirement for all students across the state.

A previous order had at one time allowed the mask mandate to remain in place as the Wolf administration appealed last month’s Commonwealth Court ruling. While the Supreme Court justices have not yet released an opinion on the case, they promised that one would be coming.

A spokesperson for Wolf said the outcome was “extremely disappointing,” but Republicans noted that the ruling was crucial to check executive overreach.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) and House Majority Leader Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre/Mifflin) released a statement, saying, “We join the voices of millions of Pennsylvanians who are pleased to see our Commonwealth’s highest court agree that no unelected government bureaucrat should ever have the sole and unilateral authority to issue open-ended ‘orders’ – whether they focus on public health or something else.”

Jake Corman (R., Centre), Senate President Pro Tempore, joined the case as a parent plaintiff and said that the decision meant “the power for parents and local leaders to make health and safety decisions in our schools is restored.” 

But Wolf’s team was not as enthusiastic about the outcome of the case. “The administration’s top priority from the beginning of this pandemic has been and remains protecting public health and safety, including students and staff, to ensure in-person learning continues,” said spokesperson Beth Rementer.

She added that the administration would be urging school districts to continue prioritizing health and safety in the future. “Masking is a proven and simple way to keep kids in school without interruption and participate in sports and other extracurricular activities,” she said. Some school districts still plan on continuing to require masks regardless of whether it is part of a state mandate.

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: FORBES

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