Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf plans to allow school districts to end mask mandates for K-12 students starting Jan. 17.
"Now, we are in a different place than we were in September, and it is time to prepare for a transition back to a more normal setting," Wolf stated on Monday.
In Sept., Wolf's administration issued a statewide mask mandate over concerns of the delta variant, according to The Hill. The standing order issued by Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam requires students, personnel, and visitors of schools in school districts to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. But the move to suspend the order comes as the FDA approved last month the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 for "emergency use."
"Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is now a part of our daily lives, but with the knowledge we've gained over the past 20 months and critical tools like the vaccine at our disposal, we must take the next step forward in our recovery," Wolf added.
Beam has encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated and schools to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to keep students and educators safe.
Beam states, "we strongly encourage schools to follow CDC guidance and make decisions with the health of their educators and students in mind. Likewise, we strongly encourage parents to talk to their children's pediatricians and get their child vaccinated. Vaccinations give your child the power to safely learn, play and be a kid."
The Wolf administration indicates that roughly 70% of adult Pennsylvanians are vaccinated.
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