Central Bucks School Board rejects plan mandating masks for students this fall

Gov. Wolf says 59 school districts in Pa. out of 474 had implemented mandatory masking policies.
DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Central Bucks School Board voted five to four to reject a plan that would have mandated masks for all students and staff when school starts Monday.

But students can still wear masks if parents want them to.

Long lines could be seen around the Central Bucks High School building Wednesday ahead of the meeting. The room filled quickly, and many were not able to get inside.

Opinions were split between those who support a mask mandate for students and those who were opposed.

"I think it should be a parent's decision. If the parents don't want their kids to wear masks, they should not have to," said Donna Wright from Chalfont.

Paree Pasi, a junior at Central Bucks High West, said, "I think that if you're unvaccinated, you should wear them because you can still carry the virus."

Parent Sheila Rai added, "I think we need to follow the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, so right now, I do believe all children should be masking."

Other parents who were in support of making masks optional for students thought differently.

"I don't trust a thing that they say, and I think it's detrimental to our children's emotional and social well-being to wear masks," said parent Brittany Pitts.

Carrie Walton of Buckingham said, "I don't think they should have to wear them in school. I think it should be a choice. It's up to the children and the parents."

As school boards across the county are meeting to decide on masks mandates, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter asking the Republican-led legislature to return to the U.S. Capitol immediately to pass legislation mandating the use of masks for all students K-12.

He noted that just 59 school districts in the commonwealth out of 474 had implemented mandatory masking policies.

But Jason Gottesman, the spokesman for the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus, says they have not planned to do so.

"From the beginning of the pandemic, the House Republican Caucus has been in favor of local control over the decisions," said Gottesman. "That's what you're seeing now."

The board plans to develop a plan that considers the number of COVID cases in Bucks County and adjust accordingly when COVID cases are high. They plan to meet next Tuesday to consider such a plan. The board agreed that masks will not be mandated when cases are moderate or low.

Mask decision in Bensalem

Also on Wednesday night in Bucks County, the Bensalem Township School Board finalized safety plans for the upcoming school year, including mask guidance.

The board voted that masks will not be mandatory for all teachers, staff and students.

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