Following a late-night meeting, the message on masks came down just hours before students were set to return to the classroom. By Briana Smith

BETHEL PARK (KDKA) — It’s back to masks for students in the Bethel Park School District.

Following a late-night meeting, the message on masks came down just hours before students were set to return to the classroom.

Up until Monday night’s meeting, wearing a mask was going to be optional in the district. But then, the board voted to make masks mandatory for now, which was met with support and sharp criticism from parents.

The school board originally met to vote on a different amendment of the district’s Health & Safety Plan — but then, a member made a motion to make masks a requirement indoors and on school transportation as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

After hours of public comment, the motion passed with a 7-2 vote.

The new rule prompted backlash from parents, with one calling board members Nazi’s, while others say the board has the legal and moral obligation to protect students.

After the vote, there was another round of public comment. Some parents thanked the board, while others questioned if vaccinations will become mandated, as well.

Board members say masks are only a requirement for the first semester and say they will review the policy again in the future.

For KDKA’s comprehensive coverage of all things related to the return to classrooms, click here.

Click here for KDKA’s Back to School Mask Guide, that includes information on what Health & Safety measures every school district in the area is taking, along with mask guidelines required by each district.