Back to school and the Pa. mask mandate

Listen 49:00
Students wear face masks outside of their school in Philly

Philadelphia School District students at Samuel Powel Elementary School and Science Leadership Academy Middle School returned to in-person learning on Aug. 31, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Most K-12 schools have reopened, and students have returned to classrooms after the summer break. Unfortunately, though, the COVID pandemic is still raging and poses a looming threat, particularly for kids under 12 unable to be vaccinated. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a statewide mask mandate for all schools and childcare centers.  We start off our hour talking with Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health ALISON BEAM about the decision to mandate masks for students, teachers, and staff in private and public schools and what the response has been. Then, we talk with pediatrician DAVID RUBIN, director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab, about how to keep students safe at school while COVID infection rates remain high and vaccines are only available to adolescents. And we learn about the Philly Teen Vaxx program, an effort by teens to encourage their peers to get vaccinated. A Philly Teen Vaxx ambassador and the program co-creator DIANNA COLEMAN join us.

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