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PA School Mask Recommendations and Requirements

As Pennsylvania children and parents get ready to head back to school, swaths of the state remain in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” transmission level, where masks are still recommended in public places. In Pennsylvania, schools already look primed to ease last year’s masking restrictions, particularly after the CDC loosened their restrictions.

Federal health officials are no longer recommending people quarantine following exposure to someone positive for COVID-19. Additionally, they’re dropping guidance for people to stay six feet apart. Masking requirements were already lifted earlier this year in parts of the state where outbreaks had been most significant, including Philadelphia. Lifting the requirement of masks on public transit lines like SEPTA, and at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh sports stadiums both indoors and out paved the way for a more marked return to normalcy.

However, community transmission remains “high” in 14 Pennsylvania counties as of Friday, according to the CDC.

Those counties include Mercer, Lawrence, Allegheny, Butler, Beaver, Washington, Greene, Fayette, Westmoreland, Clearfield, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, and Northumberland.

Meanwhile, all of eastern Pennsylvania and most of the rest of the state is in the “medium” level, and a growing number of counties — 19, as of Friday morning — are now in the “low” level.

Overall, Pennsylvania’s coronavirus numbers are mostly continuously improving, according to the state’s early warning monitoring dashboard.

  • Total confirmed cases: dropped from 17,094 to 15,565
  • Incidence rate: dropped from 133 to 122
  • Positivity rate: dropped from 17.2 percent to 17 percent
  • Average daily number of hospitalizations: increased slightly from 1,228 to 1,273

Greta Massetti, a senior epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and an author of the guidelines, noted the country is better equipped to protect people and communities from severe illness from COVID-19.

“This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” Massetti said. An estimated 95 percent of Americans have some level of immunity from COVID-19, either from vaccination or infection, Massetti told reporters.

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