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By Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA

HARRISBURG — Masks must be worn in Pennsylvania’s public and private K-12 schools, as well as early learning and child-care facilities, starting Sept. 7, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.

The public health order, issued by Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, comes just days after students across the state returned to class, and as school boards and administrations grapple with how to manage local mask requirements in response to rising cases of COVID-19 fueled by the aggressive delta variant.

Several districts have already been to court over their policies, as some parents questioned districts’ authority to implement mask mandates at the local level while others have sued for stricter masking guidelines in school buildings.

“My office has received an outpouring of messages from parents asking the administration to protect all children by requiring masks in schools,” Wolf said in a statement. “The science is clear. The delta variant is highly transmissible and dangerous to the unvaccinated, many of whom are children too young to receive the vaccine. Requiring masks in schools will keep our students safer and in the classroom, where we all want them to be.”

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