PENNSYLVANIA, (AP) – Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union on Wednesday urged K-12 schools to require masks in school buildings.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association cited the threat of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which is spiking infections and hospitalizations across the state and nationally, including among children.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks in school for teachers, students, and staff.
“We are at a crossroads, and what our schools decide now will set the stage for what this school year looks like.” Said Rich Askey, President of PSEA, “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,” he said.
Masking has become a very controversial topic since the lifting of the mask mandate, with heated discussions happening at both the national and local levels. Some Pennsylvania districts said they will require masks, while others have decided to make them optional.
“Masking up is essential to keeping in-person learning going all year,” Askey said.
The state Health Department is urging school districts to follow federal guidance and require masks for all students, teachers, and staff, regardless of vaccination status, but Alison Beam, the acting health secretary, said this week that a statewide mandate is not under discussion.
Statewide, confirmed infections have nearly doubled over the past two weeks to an average of 2,000 per day. Hospitalizations are up sharply and deaths have started to rise again, too.