Council Rock Has New Masking Policy After State Order Overturned

NEWTOWN, PA — Wearing a mask is now optional in the Council Rock School District, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opted to return control over mask requirements to individual school districts Friday.

Council Rock's school board had previously voted to make masks optional at the start of this school year. Now that a statewide mask order has been overturned, that provision from the district health and safety plan stands as of Monday.

"All students and all staff should feel equally comfortable with their choice to wear a mask or to not wear a mask tomorrow and each day moving forward," Robert Fraser, the district superintendent, wrote Sunday night.

In accordance with an order by the Centers for Disease Control requiring mask-wearing on public transportation, face coverings will still be mandated on school buses.

"We understand that the changing requirements related to the pandemic have been challenging and frustrating for many of us," Fraser wrote. "Please know that our CR staff remains ready to serve all CR students and all CR families, and that we look forward to continuing to do so."

Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam had issued a statewide mask mandate at the start of school this year; the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court then ruled the mask order illegal in November, with the appeals process leading it to the state's supreme court.

Lawyers for the state argued during that hearing that the mandate functions as a "modified quarantine," a measure the state can impose to limit the spread of a communicable disease.

But Republicans countered that Beam did not follow the proper procedural steps in issuing the mandate, and that a public health emergency was no longer in place when the order was issued, rendering it illegal. Still, the order had remained in effect until the supreme court's ruling Friday.

These changes come as Bucks County's percent positivity rate last week was 10.7 percent according to the Bucks County Department of Health. That number has been steadily on the rise over the past two weeks.

The county remains an area of high transmission, according to CDC designations.

Last week, Council Rock reported 64 positive COVID-19 cases across the district.

Read more about COVID-19 in Council Rock on the district website.

This article originally appeared on the Newtown Patch