HARRISBURG – Parental control over masking decisions in school is the foundation of a bill introduced by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) and Senator Judy Ward (R-30).
Senate Bill 846 would require school districts to develop and promote a plan for parents or legal guardians to opt-out out their child from wearing a face covering or mask. The plan must also state that a child who has been opted-out will not be subject to any harassment or discriminatory treatment.
“Today’s announcement from the Wolf Administration is hardly surprising.
“The Wolf Administration repeatedly said over the past few months that this would be a local decision. Once most school districts rejected mask mandates (Over 90%), Governor Wolf quickly changed his position when those officials made a decision that he didn’t like.
“The Wolf Administration does not have the legal authority to do this. In May, we voted to end the Governor’s Emergency Declaration after the voters of Pennsylvania made their voices loud and clear. I will be supporting a legal challenge to this misguided mandate.
“Scientific evidence does not support the idea that masks will limit transmission. In fact, the CDC’s own study of students from 169 schools last year showed schools that required face-coverings and other restrictions had no “statistically significant” difference in transmission from those without. I do not believe that the perceived benefits of mask-wearing outweigh the adverse effects observed by parents throughout our Commonwealth.
“We saw this mandate coming and began to draft legislation weeks ago. Parents and guardians need to make the choice as they know better than bureaucrats or anyone else what is best for individual needs of their child. I want to leave it in the hands of the parents. This bill will empower them to do that.”
“Every day I hear from parents who are concerned about masking and the long-term effects on learning and their children’s health. Parents have the fundamental right to make health and educational decisions that are best suited for their children. The circumstances and issues in each of those local communities should drive the decisions there, not a statewide mandate.
“Decisions were made to send children back to brick-and-mortar schools based upon local school district masking policies. The Wolf administration previously said it would leave masking decisions up to school districts but now that school has started, the Wolf Administration is changing the rules. School districts have worked hard to come up with their own COVID-19 mitigation strategies — some including optional masking, and some with required masking. Parents in my district are very upset with this change in plans impacting their children.
“In June, my efforts to limit the powers of the Secretary of Health through Senate Bill 618 was quickly vetoed by the Governor. Today’s action by issuing another mandate makes it obvious why he did that.”
CONTACT: Josh Herman (Mastriano)
Cheryl Schriner (Judy Ward)