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Pennsylvania School Mask Mandate Takes Effect Tuesday, Lawsuit Seeks To Stop It

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In an effort to keep schools from shutting down due to COVID-19, a statewide mask mandate in all Pennsylvania schools will go into effect this week.

Starting Tuesday, masks will be required for everyone, including students, staff and teachers. Masks will also be mandated in early learning centers and by child care providers.

A new lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court is looking to stop that.

Parents in Butler County along with state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman are involved in the case. They feel the acting health secretary is out of line with the mandate.

"We're going to have on Tuesday people that are healthy that are going to show up at school and they are not going to want to wear masks and I suspect from school district to school district, there's going to be numbers of those people doing so," Thomas King III of Dillon McCandless King Coulter and Graham said.

He represents the families. They feel this is a school board or parent decision. They don't want Harrisburg making the call.

"They've used powers that would rightfully be those of local schools. It's up to school boards to decide," King said over Zoom.

Parents from the Butler Area School District and Slippery Rock Area School District are listed in the lawsuit. Many of their children are at the elementary school level. The suit says if the mandate stands, the plaintiff's children could be denied education or have it disrupted.

"The secretary has no such power to impose these things on the schools," King said.

WATCH: Chris Hoffman Reports

"Doing nothing right now to stop COVID-19, that's just not an option. Doing nothing is going to mean more sick kids," Gov. Tom Wolf said during the press conference announcing the mask mandate.

King said this case is not about if the masks work or not. It's about what he calls an overreach by the Department of Health.

"Even in the midst of the worst of times, Americans have rights, and we have constitutional rights," King said.

He feels there has been too much government control during this pandemic.

State Representative Aaron Bernstine feels this is an overreach by the state. State Representative Aaron Bernstine is also among those who feel the decision shouldn't be in the government's hands.

"The governor, several months ago, came forward and said he would not be pushing the mandates on school districts," Rep. Bernstine said.

While not part of the lawsuit, the Republican legislator who represents parts of Butler, Beaver and Lawrence Counties is among those now pushing back.

"I trust the parents to make the decisions that are best for their kids a whole lot more than I trust the governor and politicians in Harrisburg," he said.

This will go before the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg on Sept. 16. King said it could end up in the state Supreme Court.

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