Tamaqua Area School District reverses course after defying mask mandate

Local News

TAMAQUA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local school district is reversing its masking policy after previously defying the state’s mandate

A hot topic in all of the Keystone state is taking a turn yet again, in Schuylkill County. The Tamaqua area School District will start requiring masks for students, staff, and visitors starting next month.

“I think you should wear it if you’re not vaccinated or whatever is better for you,” said Ryan Arroyo.

“I really like with the masks off because you can see people’s facial expressions and they’re always the funniest,” said Student Gabby Hartzell.

On September 2 the Tamaqua Area board of school directors held an emergency meeting where they decided to keep masks optional in their school district, defying the state’s mask order.

About two weeks later, the state threatened the Tamaqua Area School District with a plethora of lawsuits for defying the mask mandate and many students have different opinions on the situation.

“To me, it should stay optional. But I understand why people would want to keep the mask on, heck I can understand, I did last year when they offered the virtual and in person. I was in person all year with a mask,” said student Adam Bachert.

“ I don’t like them I had to wear them for sports sometimes. I don’t really like them,” said Jaedan Chalk who is an 8th-grade student at Tamaqua Area Middle School.

The superintendent sent a letter to families Wednesday saying students, staff, and visitors will all have to wear masks starting October 4th. Some students told me the changes in policy are confusing.

“The thing is if kids don’t know what it is, they can get in trouble for just not knowing if they had to wear a mask or if they didn’t. I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not like they are making announcements over the intercom at the school about whether you have to wear one or not. So we only know if our friend tells us, hey we have to wear a mask now,” said Tamaqua Area Middle School student Sofia Figueroa.

Other students seem to still hold hope their school district will continue to keep masks optional.

“they are going to pull it off last minute like they did the last one. That’s just my opinion, I think they were going to do it again. But, at the same time, if we have to wear them, oh well. I mean, a bunch of kids are probably going to go back to being virtual, but you know, tough luck,” said Hartzell.

Eyewitness News reached out to Tamaqua Area School District officials but they refused to comment further.

Eyewitness News is also being told people can still fill out an exemption form, which is typically for religious or medical reasons. That form should become available tomorrow and will be due by October 1st.

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