Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Delta variant

Debate Over Mask Mandate Moves from School Board Meeting to Courtroom – Lawsuit Filed in Tredyffrin Easttown School District!

Covid-19 cases are on the rise, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. As Covid-19 cases among kids continue to climb, it’s also important to keep students in school.

According to the headlines from the Philadelphia Inquirer today, “COVID-19 cases among Pa. school-age children are 10 times higher than they were last year”. The article cites a variety of factors for the surge, including the highly transmissible delta variant, the return of in-person school, and an increase in testing.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, child covid-19 cases increased 240% since July.

So … what about the mask requirement for schools? We know that masks alone do not stop the spread of coronavirus, but should mandating masking be part of the whole package?

Masking was the subject of a heated debate at the recent TESD school board meeting, with parents arguing for and against. But for some local parents, the face mask battle did not end with the School Board’s unanimous vote on August 23 to approve the Health and Safety Plan and Covid-19 mitigation plan which included the mask mandate.

Nor did the anti-mask opposition cease when Gov. Tom Wolf announced a mask mandate on August 31 for all Pennsylvania school students aged two and over. (The state mask mandate order took effect on Tuesday, September 7.)

Less than a week after the Department of Health ordered universal masking in Pennsylvania schools, the Republican Senate President and a group of parents filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Wolf administration’s new mask mandate. The lawsuit asserts that the Acting Health Secretary failed to comply with state law when she ordered masks to be worn in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as childcare facilities. The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the masking order – the court scheduled a hearing for Sept. 16.

What is very clear is that when it comes to mandating masks for students, parents are divided. Lots of parents are thrilled. Lots of parents are angry.  And some parents are going to court hoping to reverse course.

On Wednesday, September 8, four District parents/guardians (Sarah Marvin, Andrew McLellan, Alicia Geerlings and David Goveranti) filed a lawsuit against T/E School District in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court alleging that the mask mandate is unlawful and that, “… the School Board has no legal authority to require students to wear masks or to test students without their consent.”

Representing the parents is Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.  To read the lawsuit, click the link below.

To offset legal costs for the lawsuit, a an “Unmask TE” GoFundMe page was created and to date has raised over $7,100 – https://www.gofundme.com/f/unmask-te-support-freedom-of-choice

Representing the District in the lawsuit are defense attorneys Deborah Stambaugh, Christina Gallagher and Brian Elias from Wisler Pearlstine, LLP. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 14, 9 AM at the Eastern District Court in Philadelphia.

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