Bullock, Hanbidge legislation to require masks for PA schools, daycare centers

HARRISBURG, Aug. 31 – As the new school year gets under way, state Reps. Donna Bullock and Liz Hanbidge are introducing legislation requiring school districts and daycare centers to follow CDC guidelines as it relates to masking indoors.

The legislation from Bullock, D-Phila., and Hanbidge, D-Montgomery, coincides with today’s expected announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf requiring masks in all Pennsylvania K-12 schools and daycare centers.

“We should be doing everything we can to ensure our children’s safe return to full-time, in-person instruction,” Bullock said. “But as COVID-19 cases increase across the state, the reaction of school districts has been mixed and inconsistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for K-12 schools.

“We need to ensure that children remain in full-time, in-person instruction to fulfill their educational, social and emotional development. We need to ensure that parents and caregivers have the ability to work to pay the bills and fuel the economy. All of our livelihoods are connected to keeping children in schools, and we should be doing everything in our power to keep them there.”

According to the CDC, multiple studies have shown that transmission rates within school settings – when prevention strategies are in place – are typically lower than community transmission levels. Using a snapshot in time, fewer than 75 school districts have enacted a masking policy, which is counter to CDC guidance for K-12 schools, and further highlights how schools are not following recommended procedures and mitigation practices.

"As a commonwealth, we've worked incredibly hard to protect our most vulnerable citizens from COVID-19, and to do so meant enormous economic and societal sacrifices," said Hanbidge, who serves on the House Children and Youth Committee.

"Until our youngest and most vulnerable can be vaccinated, for the sake of their health and our economic stability, we need to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to keep them safe. While we are seeing significant increases in transmission in other states that are not taking this virus seriously, and we know that viruses can remain in the body for many years, the truth is we don't yet know the long-term impact of COVID-19 infection on children. This legislation is aimed at protecting children and allowing parents to go to work with the peace of mind of knowing we're all working together to keep their children protected."

Currently, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. CDC guidance is routinely updated to provide mitigation strategies using the best information and data available.