Pa. Supreme Court says school masking order will remain in place until appeal decided

J.D. Prose
Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Tuesday that a statewide school mask order will remain in effect until it rules on an appeal to a lower court decision overturning the order.  

The court is scheduled to hear arguments on the appeal on Dec. 8.  

One Supreme Court justice dissented, and the court’s order noted that Tuesday’s decision reinstating the mask order should not be considered “as a position regarding the merits of this appeal.” 

Acting state Secretary of Health Alison Beam issued the school masking order for anyone in buildings effective Sept. 7. The order, though, came too late for many school boards that had been targeted for months by anti-mask parents at meetings.  

A statewide Pennsylvania school masking order will remain in place until the state Supreme Court decides on an appeal to a lower court decision overturning the order. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hearing arguments on Dec. 8.

On Nov. 10, the state Commonwealth Court issued a 4-1 decision overturning the mask mandate in a court challenge filed by, among others, state Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre County, a candidate for governor. 

Later, the Commonwealth Court said the state’s masking order must expire by Dec. 4. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has appealed the decision and that is what the Supreme Court is set to hear on Dec. 8.

However, the initial Commonwealth Court decision came just days after Wolf had said the mask order would likely be lifted on Jan. 17 and local school districts would again have the ability to make their owner policies.  

At the time, Wolf said the mask order had served its purpose and Pennsylvania was in a “different place” with COVID-19 than it was in September when the order was issued. 

More:Statewide masking order in Pa. schools set to end Jan. 17. Why Gov. Tom Wolf announced the change

More:Pa. mask mandate must expire Dec. 4, judge rules. But it might not be the final ruling

More:Masks in Pa. schools: Court tosses Wolf administration mandate, but state vows appeal

J.D. Prose is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network's Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau. He can be reached at