2 Philly elementary schools tagged with anti-mask graffiti as students return to school

File photo: Philadelphia school district K-2 students returned to in-person learning on March 8, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

File photo: Philadelphia school district K-2 students returned to in-person learning on March 8, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Anti-mask messages were scrawled on sidewalks outside two Philadelphia elementary schools Wednesday morning, the first day students returned from winter break.

A mask mandate is in place through the end of next week as a “precautionary” measure, officials said, meant to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses from spreading.

The messages, one of which instructed children not to wear masks, were painted on the sidewalks outside Meredith and Nebinger Elementary Schools in South Philly.

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Police said they are investigating the incidents, which they referred to as “vandalism.”

District spokesperson Christina Clark said in an email that school leaders at both schools have not received pushback regarding the mandate and that the graffiti has since been removed.

Similar messages were not reported at any other Philadelphia schools, Clark said.

Last year, thousands of teachers and students tested positive for COVID in early January, forcing 102 schools to switch to virtual learning temporarily.

About 240 COVID cases, almost equally split among students and staff, were reported to the district the week of Dec. 19, 2022. Last week, 80 cases, primarily among staff, were reported. The district shares data for the previous week on Mondays.

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