Unions of teachers in Pennsylvania are urging K12 schools to require masks

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The Pennsylvania State Education Association and The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers have called on K12 schools to require masks within their premises.

“Masking up is essential to keeping in-person learning going all year,” “We know that safe in-person instruction is the best setting for students to learn,”

For that reason, PSEA wants to see every school in the state start the school year in person, continue in person, and finish in person. That will be impossible if schools have to close their doors because of a rapid spread of this virus.” PSEA President Rich Askey said. Askey is representing about 178,000 active and retired teachers and school employees.

Mask-wearing policy in schools have become a controversial topic because of the increasing cases of Covid-19, worrying some groups in the society, especially those who have to deal with children below 12yrs old and are not eligible for vaccine doses.

To even consider not implementing a universal mask mandate in schools is quite frankly outrageous,” “Layered mitigation works. This is not a political statement--it’s a statement based in science and the health of our students and staff.” Arthur Steinberg, president of AFT Pennsylvania.

Some Pennsylvania schools have already resumed classes and school districts will be welcoming back students a couple of weeks from now. Unfortunately, according to Pennlive News, school districts throughout central Pennsylvania aren’t requiring students to wear masks, although some have said masks will be required. The Philadelphia School District, the state’s largest, is requiring students and staff to wear masks.

Pennsylvania mask-wearing policy

The state of Pennsylvania has been following the CDC’s guidance on health protocols for over a year. However, on June 2021, the Pennsylvania Health Department have lifted their masking mandate allowing unvaccinated people to no longer be required in wearing masks in most public situations.

"We continue to urge Pennsylvanians to follow CDC guidance for wearing a mask where required by law, rule, and regulations, including healthcare, local business and workplace guidance," stated in Pennsylvania’s website.

Doctors are cautiously optimistic that contaminations and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania will not be the same with some other states in the south part of America. Even though the delta variant of the coronavirus has spread rapidly nationwide, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates, Pennsylvania’s vaccination rate is higher than most other states making the health workers worry less.

Pennsylvania Corona virus cases

As of August 17, 2021, Pensylvania Covid-19 cases have increased to 92%, death cases have increased to 114%, and hospitalization increased to 78%. Confirmed cases and deaths, which are widely considered to be an undercount of the true toll, are counts of individuals whose coronavirus infections were confirmed by a molecular laboratory test. Probable cases and deaths count individuals who meet criteria for other types of testing, symptoms and exposure, as developed by national and local governments - The New York Times.

As of August -7, 2021, Pennsylvania has received 16,958,855 doses so far, administering 88% or 14,995,134 of the doses. There are 8,657,366 people or 67.63% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 6,880,507 people or 53.75% of Pennsylvania's population have been fully vaccinated. Furthermore, 16,958,855 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered in Pennsylvania and 14,995,134 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania, as per the data reported by USAFACTS.

Compared to other states, considering that Pennsylvania has one of the highest vaccination rate in the United States, so far is doing well. However, the major concerns of some groups especially those who are in the education sector arouse because of the alarming spread of the delta variant. Even though vaccination rate is high in the state, children below 12 are still very much at risk. Now, the questions is, will the state of Pennsylvania re-consider the mask-wearing policy in order to have a necessary precaution against the delta variant or will they continue the lift amidst the danger waiting ahead.

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