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Tipsheet

Philadelphia School District Forcing Students and Staff to Mask Up for First Two Weeks of School Year

AP Photo/John Minchillo

When students and staff return to school on August 29 in the Philadelphia school district, they'll be required to wear masks for at least two school weeks, until September 9, per a new policy released last Friday. As Christopher Tremoglie mentioned in writing for the Washington Examiner, this calls to mind the idea that the country needed just "two weeks to stop the spread." We could soon be entering the fourth calendar year under the pandemic, though, with Democratic-run cities still imposing mask mandates.

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The mask mandate is in place up until September 9 as students and staff come back from summer vacation. That doesn't mean that such mandates won't return though, far from it. Universal masking will be required not just when there is a "classroom- or school-wide outbreak," but also "upon return from extended breaks and holidays when increased social gatherings may heighten the risk of exposure to COVID-19." That means students and staff can look forward to being forcibly masked when returning from Christmas break as well. 

The policy announced on the website also makes clear that such universal masking is required "regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level." 

As of August 16, the CDC currently considers Philadelphia County as a "medium" risk area, which means that it recommends people who may be high-risk to talk to the doctor about when to wear a mask. The guidelines also note that "[p]eople with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask." In other words, the Philadelphia School District does not appear to be trusting the experts. 

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Young children, who are at least risk for contracting a serious case of COVID, will also still be forcibly masked, year-round, as will be the staff members who look after them. "Students and staff at PreK Head Start programs are still required to wear masks at all times, regardless of the Community Level," the district policy also notes.

When it comes to other points of the school year, masking is also otherwise "recommended" for students and staff. 

On July 27, The Washington Post published Donna St. George's piece about school districts returning to or considering returning to masking, with many districts in liberal parts of the country. 

According to Burbio, as of August 16, 1.6 percent of school districts, or eight total, require masks. Philadelphia is one of them, as is San Diego Unified, Milwaukee School District, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Jefferson County in Kentucky, New Haven School District in Connecticut, and Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. 

The United States has long been held an unfortunate distinction when it comes to forcibly masking children. Last November, the United States was one of just seven western countries with mask mandates still in place for students. 

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When it comes to Philadelphia, that school district has been in the news before for unsavory reasons, as teachers in the district were encouraged to attend a local "Trans Wellness" event that included many sexual topics, according to Christopher Rufo, who tweeted out videos form the event in question. 

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