Governor allows school districts to modify, end mask mandate

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) intends to allow school districts to modify or end mask mandates for K-12 students starting on Jan. 17.

Wolf’s administration imposed a statewide mask mandate in September, citing the surge of infections and hospitalizations from the highly contagious delta variant of the novel virus, according to The Associated Press.

“Now, we are in a different place than we were in September, and it is time to prepare for a transition back to a more normal setting,” Wolf said in a statement on Monday.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is now a part of our daily lives, but with the knowledge we’ve gained over the past 20 months and critical tools like the vaccine at our disposal, we must take the next step forward in our recovery,” he added.

The existing order from Health Secretary Alison Beam requires students, school personnel and visitors at K-12 schools and child care facilities to wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The move to end the statewide mandate comes after federal officials approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5.