Upper Darby School District changes mask policy: Masks recommended but not required

An Upper Darby School District bus. (6abc)

An Upper Darby School District bus. (6abc)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. We’re all still trying to figure out how to live with it. What should we know about how you approach the world now? How has the pandemic changed your social life, your work life, your interactions with your neighbors?

The Upper Darby School District will recommend — but no longer require — students and staff to wear masks on school grounds starting March 7.

The old policy was similar to many other districts in the state: masks required at all times by everyone in the building.

Dr. Daniel McGarry, the superintendent of Pennsylvania’s ninth-largest school district, sent out a message to the school district regarding the change on Sunday. He cited the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases as a reason for the shift in policy.

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In an interview with WHYY News, McGarry added that “there has been plenty of time for individuals to be vaccinated, and that we have to start to transition back to as normal a learning environment as possible.”

“… Given the rapidly declining data and recent conversations with medical experts, as well as what medical experts have said, they see a move toward masking recommended. We are in a good place and a good position to be able to move in that direction,” McGarry said.

McGarry said the school board gave him the authority to make these decisions, so the district’s Education and Pupil Services Committee would not vote on the change at yesterday’s [Tuesday night’s] public meeting.

“It’s not a board action voting item. It’s more informational, letting the board and the public know why we’re doing what we’re doing and that we’ll be implementing this starting March 7,” McGarry said.

McGarry emphasized that the Upper Darby School District has been behind other districts on mask policy changes. He categorized the approach Upper Darby is taking as a “conservative” one that takes into account the safety of students and staff.

WHYY News reached out to the local teachers union, the Upper Darby Education Association, and the Pennsylvania State Education Association for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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