Philadelphia jumps back into school mask mandates

Philadelphia jumps back into school mask mandates
AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins

And I’ll bet that some of you thought this was all over, didn’t you? Well, think again. The Philadephia school district has brought back its mandatory public school face mask mandate for K-12 students when indoors or on public school transportation. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is once again behind the order, blaming an uptick in positive tests in the area. The PDHP Superintendent noted that the county was now classified as being at a “medium” level of transmission. So all of the students will now be forced into the time machine to go back to 2021. The immediate question stemming from this decision is how accepting the parents of these students will be and whether or not it will inspire even more parents to pull their children from the public school system. The teachers’ unions are, of course, all supporting the change. (National Review)

The Philadelphia school district is reimposing the K-12 indoor mask mandate for students and staff beginning Monday.

Masks will need to be worn in school facilities and while riding on public school transportation.

The decision to resume mandatory masking was made in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the region and per the recommendation of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), superintendent William Hite said in a statement Friday.

It’s worth noting that an appeals court judge shot down a lawsuit challenging the end of the mask mandates in March. A little thing like that clearly isn’t going to stand in the way of the PDHP. After all, it’s for the children, don’t you know.

Another factor in this story is that even if the renewed mandate is challenged, it may not matter. The school year is over in roughly three weeks, so most families won’t have to deal with it after that. The bigger question on that score is whether or not the schools would refuse to graduate any students whose families pulled them out of class for those last three weeks. If you want to see some PTA meetings get ugly, that would certainly be the formula to make it happen.

This may well exacerbate an ongoing problem for the city’s public schools which has been observed across much of the nation. Public school enrollment in Philadelphia dropped significantly in 2021 and into this year. Meanwhile, charter school enrollment climbed between six and nine percent during the same period. Homeschooling figures are not available, but it has reportedly become increasingly common.

When asked how long the new mask mandate would last, the school district did not even offer an estimate or a benchmark that would signal an end. They simply said that the requirement will be in place “until further notice.” But there may be at least one upside to this situation if more parents decide to keep their kids home. Given that Philadelphia’s homicide rate is already on pace to increase yet again under the current municipal leadership, perhaps the children are safer staying at home anyway.

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