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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Takes Up School Mask Mandate

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The wait continues as the Pennslyvania Supreme Court decides whether masks should be worn in Pennsylvania schools. Arguments on both sides were heard Wednesday in a Philadelphia courtroom.

It's up to the justices to decide the fate of all schools across the commonwealth.

The issue at hand is whether Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam could legally issue a mask mandate. The mandate was issued in August. After the mandate, some parents and lawmakers sued, saying Beam didn't have the power to do that.

The state's commonwealth court agreed and said the mandate would expire on Dec. 4, but Gov. Tom Wolf's administration appealed and asked the state Supreme Court to keep the order in place.

WATCH: KDKA's Briana Smith reports

During Wednesday morning's hearing before the Supreme Court, Senior Deputy Attorney General Sean Kirkpatrick argued that Beam issued the masking order because of the highly contagious Delta variant posing a lot more harm to children by threatening both their health and education.

He also argued that it's tough to know whether someone is infected with COVID or if they're exposed until they get a positive test or have symptoms. He stressed a mask mandate is important until the threat is no longer an issue. Kirkpatrick also said the masking order must be considered part of a "modified quarantine" which means it prohibits people without masks from entering school buildings.

However, the attorney on the other side, Thomas Breth, argued that a modified quarantined isn't mentioned anywhere in Beam's order. One of the justices asked Breth if daily testing would have been more reasonable instead of mandatory masking and he said no.

Stay with KDKA for more on this developing news story. 

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