Districts and families consider mask mandates as school year plans take shape

American Academy of Pediatrics urge "back to class, wear a mask," but local districts make final decision

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It has been a whirlwind month with pandemic news.

The Biden administration set July 4 as a target for 70 percent of Americans to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They conceded in July that goal would not be met. At the time, though, the delta variant of the virus was not the dominant strain in the US. Now it is and infections are spreading rapidly, primarily among the unvaccinated.

The federal government set off a domino affect at the end of July when the CDC published new masking guidelines causing confusion, and in some cases anger, at the changing recommendations.

Now school districts around Pennsylvania are finalizing school health and safety plans, including whether children will be required to wear face masks.

Governor Tom Wolf elected not to impose another mask mandate, giving control of that decision to local districts. Many are deciding not to require masks, others have not made a final decision.

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday to discuss masking and keeping children safe from COVID is Dr. Swathi Gowtham, MD, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Director, Pediatric Infection Prevention, Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and member of PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. Also on the program to share how their school district is approaching to issue is David Christopher, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, Cumberland Valley School District and Dion E. Betts, Ed.D., Superintendent, Chambersburg Area School District. 

For more on health issues plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at TransformingHealth.org, a partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.

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