PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The fight over masking in schools just got more complicated.
Some districts decided to take matters into their own hands because of Wednesday’s legal back-and-forth, but other districts said the guidance is clear. Either way, it’s leaving parents and children caught in the middle.READ MORE: Sto-Rox Junior/Senior High Students Dismissed Early, Will Learn Virtually Due To Threat Of Violence
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked both school districts and parents how they’re maneuvering the confusion.
“This is tough stuff. It’s been a horrible two days,” said Dr. Randal Lutz, the superintendent of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.
“The fact that the mandate was shut down yesterday and we’re still being forced to send them in masks, it’s just ridiculous,” said Hempfield School District parent Melissa Brant.
Some parents told KDKA they felt hope on Wednesday, excited to tell their kids they could ditch the mask, only to have that hope ripped away. Others said masks are what’s kept their kids healthy and in class this entire year.
“I was excited, told my kids that they wouldn’t have to wear the masks anymore,” said Yough School District parent Ashley Karasek said.
After the word of an appeal, some districts reversed course.
“Then all of a sudden, we get this phone call, a mass phone call, saying that they’re still enforcing it due to an overturn,” Karasek said.
Nearly 5,000 kids bused to Baldwin-Whitehall on Thursday, all wearing masks.READ MORE: Study Ranks Pennsylvania As 2nd Best State In U.S. For Christmas Decorations
“And folks were asking, ‘Well, how did it go?’ And my answer was, and I wasn’t trying to be smart about it, ‘It was Thursday,’” Dr. Lutz said.
Dr. Lutz told KDKA he first heard the news Wednesday when a Commonwealth Court judge struck down the statewide school mask mandate, calling it “void” and “unenforceable.” Then, the Wolf administration pushed back, pausing everything.
“The appeal was filed, and the court order was stayed. So it stays, in effect, basically until the court process runs its course,” said Dr. Lutz. “That was the opinion that we received from the Pennsylvania Department of Education yesterday afternoon as well.”
Baldwin will continue to enforce masking, along with Mt. Lebanon, North Hills, Hempfield and Yough, just to name a few.
Sever told KDKA she got her daughter a medical exemption and she’s had enough.
“Not everyone was able to do that. My child has not worn a mask to school a day in her life because I refuse,” said Sever.
Hempfield mom Melissa Brant said she’s watching her teenage daughter suffer from anxiety, further exasperated by mask-wearing, and she’s in favor of “parent choice.”
“I told her do not wear a mask in school,” Brant said. “You get kicked out, go to the gym like they made you do before, I’ll come pick you up.”
Brant told KDKA that her daughter did not call needing to be picked up. She’s going to continue to tell her daughter to protest the mask mandate, for her own mental health.MORE NEWS: Pfizer Expected To Seek FDA Authorization For Booster Shots For 16, 17 Year-Olds
It’s now a waiting game as districts look for a decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.