UPPER ST. CLAIR, PA — A federal appeals judge on Sunday temporarily reinstated mask mandates for Upper St. Clair students and staff. The order reverses a Jan. 21 lower court ruling rejecting the request for the mask requirement to remain in place.
Masks will be mandatory until a three-judge appeals panel can review the lawsuit filed last week challenging the school board's decision to go to an optional mask policy that was supposed to go into effect today.
The 45-page lawsuit against the district and individual school board members was filed by s
unidentified district students with disabilities that increases their risk of contracting COVID-19, and their parents.
School directors on Jan. 10 voted 7-2 to reverse the district's universal mask policy and make masking optional effective Jan. 24 regardless of COVID-19 transmission rates.
The lawsuit notes that Allegheny County transmission rates have been high since August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
"The board's (mask-optional) vote neither accounts for the fact that transmission rate of infection from COVID-19 was still in the "high" category on Jan. 10 and that it continues to dramatically increase because of omicron, nor that universal masking is essential to the prevention of the spread of this airborne disease," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit states that the district's own records indicate it has just under 100 students that either had cancer or an autoimmune deficiency. Another 300 students have upper respiratory conditions, meaning a total of 400 students have a high or enhanced risk of infection.