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State Education Department says Norwin’s ‘masks optional’ move is a misinterpretation of court ruling

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The Norwin School Board’s determination this week to take care of the coverage of permitting college students the choice of carrying a masks might trigger faculty officers to “lose the sovereign immunity and may personally face lawsuits from those who may be affected by any official’s attempt to ignore the order,” the state Department of Education stated Wednesday.

Failing to implement or observe measures designed to cease the unfold of covid “may expose individuals to personal liability” and topic them to the penalty provisions underneath the state’s Disease Prevention and Control Law, stated Kendall Alexander, Education Department spokeswoman, in a assertion.

“Practically, nothing has changed for the masking requirement. Some school districts are misinterpreting the ruling,” however the overwhelming majority are abiding by it, Alexander acknowledged.

The faculty board on Monday voted 7-2 to take care of a masks choice coverage that Superintendent Jeff Taylor had instituted Nov. 10. His determination got here after a Commonwealth Court decide dominated Gov. Tom Wolf overstepped his authority by issuing a mandate that didn’t adjust to guidelines for setting rules and was adopted with out Wolf declaring a catastrophe emergency.

Norwin was one of the college districts named as a defendant in a lawsuit opposing the masks mandate, district Solicitor Russell Lucas stated.

Taylor couldn’t be reached for remark Wednesday.

An automated keep of the Commonwealth Court ruling took impact when the Wolf administration final week appealed the court’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

But Lucas instructed the college board he anticipated the keep to be dissolved. That did happen Tuesday, when Commonwealth Court dominated the masks mandate can be lifted as of Dec. 4.

Wolf had beforehand set Jan. 17 because the deadline for lifting his administration’s masks mandate.

Director Donald Rhodes, who voted in opposition to permitting masks to be non-obligatory, stated following the assembly that he voted in opposition to the masks choice as a result of “I believe in what the state tells us to do.”

Director Brian Carlton, board president, declined to touch upon his dissenting vote. The phrases of each administrators will finish when the brand new board takes workplace in early December.

During public feedback Monday on the board assembly, Shawna Ilagan, who will likely be sworn in as a faculty director in December, stated that allowing a masks non-obligatory coverage was the best determination. The outcomes of a survey in the summertime of district households confirmed overwhelming assist for an non-obligatory masks coverage.

The district ought to have permitted dad and mom to hunt exceptions to the masks requirement, Ilagan stated.

But North Huntingdon resident Melissa Karabin, who is disabled, stated the masks choice coverage is unlawful and it violates her civil rights.

“You let everyone down,” Karabin stated.

She stated the district ought to preserve the masks requirement in impact till Jan. 17.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review workers author. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, jnapsha@triblive.com or through Twitter .