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Lack Of Mask Mandate At Some Local School Districts Leaves Parents With Mixed Feelings About Kids Heading Back To School For In-Person Learning

LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) -- This week, more students across the Delaware Valley will head back to school, and that's left parents with mixed feelings about the first day. Battles of mask mandates, or the lack thereof, and vaccine debates are fueling frustration and sparking passionate division. 

Pennslyvania Gov. Tom Wolf has not mandated students and teachers wear masks. Voters limited his powers in the last election cycle. Instead, he suggested all students wear masks while in the classroom. But it's now left the decision up to the individual school districts. Masks are optional in Bensalem, Pennridge, School Rock, and Quakertown Community School Districts. However, they're required in Pennsbury, Bristol Township, New Hope Solebury, and Neshaminy Elementary schools.

Eyewitness News spoke to one local mom who said she feels trapped about sending her twin girls back to school on Monday. That trap centers around masks because some districts in Bucks County aren't requiring face coverings.

On Sunday, the rush of returning to class was in full swing at a Target in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

"Doing a little back-to-school shopping, getting a few things before the last moment," Elijah Dupree, a parent, said. "The two little ones, this is their first year in kindergarten, so we're getting things for them and they get to pick out their bookbag, they're excited." 

It's just not the kids looking forward to the first day.

"Mom needs a break," Sandy Vedder said. "Working full-time plus managing their school schedule and my job is a lot of stress, plus they need the social aspect of it. So, they really need to go back."

Vedder's second and sixth graders start this week in Pennsbury, where masks are a must.

"There's like eight bottles of hand sanitizer back there, lots of Clorox wipes, new masks for every day," she said.

But for this mom of twin second graders, the first day feels a lot different. 

"I'm dreading it," Rachel Rosner Handfinger said. "I'm trying to put on a happy face for my kids because I want them to be excited."

In her district, Council Rock, face coverings are not required and she worries her daughters won't be safe. 

"They eat snacks in their classroom, so they have to take their mask off to eat a snack, and there's no way they can social distance in the classroom," Rosner Handfinger said.

With her and her husband working full-time and private schools out of reach she feels caught in a trap.

"We're sending them into what feels like a trap," she said. 

Council Rock's School Board will meet again on Sept. 9 to review their current back-to-school plan. 

Philadelphia Schools also start back up this week where everyone inside school property will be required to mask up.

Meanwhile, the governors of New Jersey and Delaware have required masks to be worn there.

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