Good evening, Cornwall-Lebanon Families,
This is Philip Domencic, Superintendent. At noon today, we learned that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a ruling voiding the Department of Health’s indoor face covering order for all Pennsylvania schools. (You can read the complete ruling here.)
At 3:31 p.m., the Secretary of Education shared that the Health Department lawyers have been directed to file an appeal today to the state Supreme Court. This would effectively put the new decision on hold and keep the face covering order in effect.
Because of this new development from the Secretary of Education, we are expecting that a stay will be issued. Our Health and Safety Plan states that we will follow all existing, binding and current orders. Therefore, if a stay is issued, Cornwall-Lebanon School District will follow the Department of Education’s guidance, the mask order will be reinstated, and it will remain in effect throughout the duration of the proceedings.
Assuming that a stay will be issued by the court, students and staff members who do not have an approved exception should be prepared to wear a face covering in school tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021).
If a stay is not issued by the court, Cornwall-Lebanon School District will return to optional face coverings for students and staff members, as per our original Health and Safety Plan, approved at the beginning of this school year.
The most important thing for our students is to prevent this back-and-forth decision making process at the state level to become disruptive in our Cornwall-Lebanon School District schools. Our community has been respectful, shown civility, and persevered together through the past 19 months. And, we ask that everyone continues to be patient, continues to show this respect and civility, as we work through this matter and it is sorted out in the courts.
Thank you for your ongoing cooperation. We will continue to share any updates as they become available.
Have a good evening,
PA Secretary of Education Noe Ortega’s 11-10-2021 Email to Superintendents:
“Earlier today, the Commonwealth Court issued a ruling voiding Acting Secretary Beam’s school mask order. The state is filing an appeal today, which will trigger a stay of the Court’s ruling and keep the order in effect.
Schools should continue to observe the school masking order throughout the duration of the court’s proceedings.
For additional context and background, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Office of the Governor, is providing the following statement to our schools:
The Secretary of Health’s authority is clearly outlined in existing law. The Department of Health has directed counsel to file an appeal today. Filing of the appeal will immediately stay the Commonwealth Court’s decision. School masking is a necessary public health measure to keep children safe and provide them with as much in-person learning in school as possible. Medical experts agree – hospitals and healthcare professionals across the state support the masking requirement. Requiring masks in schools is helping to keep students in classrooms and the virus out and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf announced that on January 17, 2022, it is anticipated that the commonwealth’s K-12 school mask requirement will return to local control. Upon the expiration of the statewide mandate, schools may continue requiring mask-wearing based on local policy and CDC guidance.”
Noe Ortega, Ph.D. | Secretary of Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education | Executive Office
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126
717.783.9780 | www.education.pa.gov