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Face masks are now required again at many Philadelphia-area schools

By Melissa Alonso, CNN

The School District of Philadelphia reinstated face masks in schools, a month after masks were made optional, due to an uptick in cases in the area, the district announced.

“Until further notice, all School District students and staff will be required to wear their masks during the school and work day and while riding on school buses and vans,” the Friday announcement said.

“As we’ve learned since the pandemic began, the coronavirus continues to evolve and so too will our response to it,” Superintendent William Hite said in the announcement. “To help protect everyone’s health and well-being as Covid-19 case counts continue to rise in the Philadelphia area, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has recommended that we resume universal mask wearing.”

On Monday, Philadelphia Public Health reported “400 average new cases per day,” the agency said a tweet, and “142 hospitalizations as of last Wednesday.”

School districts in neighboring Montgomery County have also reinstated face mask policies after the county was “designated as high risk,” said a tweet from the Norristown Area School District. “NASD will require masks to be worn indoors by students, staff, and visitors,” the district said. “We appreciate everyone’s cooperation.”

The Cheltenham School District, in Montgomery County, has scheduled “a special board meeting on Tuesday” night, according to a Sunday letter to parents. The school board “will consider amending its current health and safety plan,” the letter said, “to make masks ‘strongly recommended,’ but not ‘required,’ in our buildings.”

“If approved, effective Wednesday, May 25, and for so long as Montgomery County remains in a ‘high’ level of community transmission, masks in our buildings will be strongly recommended,” said the letter.

The last day of classes for students in Philadelphia and Cheltenham schools is June 14, while the Norristown school district’s last day is scheduled for June 9, according to the district’s academic calendar.

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