Monday, December 13, 2021

REPORT: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Throws Out Mask Mandate For Schools

Source: CBS Local Philadelphia

Published: December 10, 2021

By: CBS Philly

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania schoolchildren may soon be attending classes unmasked under a state Supreme Court ruling Friday that threw out the Wolf administration’s statewide mandate that face coverings be worn inside K-12 school buildings.

The justices announced the decision but have not yet issued a written opinion that explains their reasoning.

They ruled that the masking mandate, which also applies to child care facilities, is not valid because it was imposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s acting health secretary without legal authorization. The practical impact of the decision will depend on which schools and school districts impose their own masking requirements.

The justices upheld a lower-court ruling that Alison Beam, the acting state health secretary, lacked authority to require masks, did not follow state laws about enacting regulations and acted without a required existing disaster emergency declared by the governor in place.

The decision comes just two days after the high court heard oral arguments in the challenge filed by the Senate’s highest-ranking Republican leader and others.

The lower-court found Pennsylvania’s disease control law does not give health secretaries “the blanket authority to create new rules and regulations out of whole cloth, provided they are related in some way to the control of disease or can otherwise be characterized as disease control measures.”

The lawsuit was filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre; state Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford; two religious schools; three public school districts; and several parents of schoolchildren.

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