Mask Mandate the Sequel


Jason Dusko

Acting PA Secretary of Health mandates mask in schools.

Levi Bettinger, News Editor

On August 31, 2021, the Acting Secretary of Health of Pennsylvania released a letter that mandated face coverings in all school related functions. “As of the date of this Order, there have been 1,300,368 cases and 28,235 deaths in this Commonwealth caused by the still present and ongoing pandemic.” the mandate letter stated. The letters continue to explain why masking in school is important. “As of yet, no vaccine has been approved for children under the age of 12. As of August 26, 2021, the total number of cumulative cases reported in children in the Commonwealth was 23,974 in the 0-4 years of age cohort, 56,039 in the 5-12 years of age cohort, and 88,205 in the 12-18 years of age cohort.” 

Due to this letter, Pine Grove Area School District has mandated masks in all school buildings, after starting the year mask free. Most students are complying with the mandate, but some have chosen to submit a mask exemption form, which allows students to go to school mask-free due to a medical condition or disability. The school district letter stated “Pine Grove Area School District will continue working to provide reasonable educational accommodations to those that have completed the exception form. However, beginning Monday, September 20, 2021 any student without a completed board approved exception request form on file must wear an appropriate facial covering while inside our buildings. Students who refuse to comply will be sent home, and the absence will be considered unlawful.” 

Mr. Janicelli, High School principal said, “This year is just so much different than last year. Last year, the world was at a different place, and wearing a mask was part of it. Last year, we were fortunate to have in-person learning. This year is just different. We started off the year with masks being optional, and now moved to masks not being optional. Masks, no masks, it’s frustrating for all.” Students at PGAHS have mixed feelings about mask-wearing. Beth Wagner, sophomore, said, “I really don’t mind. Of course no one likes wearing a mask, but I just do what I’m told to do.” According to the PGASD Covid-19 Tracker, there are 5 active cases in the Pine Grove Area School District, one of which is in the High School, as of October 6, 2021. There are however, students who have either filed an exemption form, or choose not to wear a mask at all.   


***Information from the PA Dept. of Health and Pine Grove Area School District is accurate to the date of publication. Any and all opinions shown here are individual and do not reflect those of Pine Grove Area High School, the Pine Grove Area School Board, PGACC, or Cardinal Media***