August 31, 2021

Pennsylvania Issues Mask Requirement in Schools & Child Care

Governor Wolf announced that effective September 7, 2021, people over the age of two must wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in licensed child care programs, Pre-K – 12 schools, and more. Some exemptions apply.

Indoor Mask Requirement Issued

Starting September 7 at 12:01 a.m., people over the age of two must wear facial coverings (regardless of vaccination status) in the following early childhood settings in Pennsylvania:

    • licensed child care programs,
    • Pre-K – 12 public and private schools,
    • Pre-K Counts programs,
    • Head Start programs,
    • Preschool Early Intervention programs,
    • Family Centers,
    • private academic nursery schools, and
    • locally-funded pre-kindergarten activities.

Through this order, the Wolf Administration seeks to preserve in-person education for children and reduce the need for quarantining and program closures as a result of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

What must schools and child care programs do?

School entities (including licensed child care programs), must:

    • require and enforce that all teachers, children/students over the age of two, staff, and visitors wear a face covering indoors (exemptions apply),
    • post prominent signs in locations for teachers, children/students, staff, and visitors stating that face coverings are required by the Order of the Secretary of Health,
    • provide reasonable accommodations for people who state they have a medical or mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for that person to wear a face covering.

Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth with material that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face.

Is anyone exempted from the mask requirement?

There are exemptions to the face covering requirements. All alternatives to face masks, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is exempted. Exemptions include:

    • When the person is under the age of two years old.
    • If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition, or a disability.
    • If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
    • When a child/student is participating in a sports practice activity or event, whether indoors or outdoors.
    • When a person is engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (eating, drinking, playing an instrument, etc.) or in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities, including physical education class in well-ventilated locations where keeping at least six feet between all individuals is possible).

To view the full list of exemptions, read this document.

More Information

For more information, read these announcements from OCDEL and the Department of Health. To read more news, visit our news page.

Image: An early learning professional sits at a table with several children who are working on a craft activity.