A Pennsylvania court ruled Wednesday that the state’s health secretary did not have the authority to issue a school mask mandate, the latest twist in a nationwide dispute over whether masks should be required in schools.
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court immediately voided the state’s school mask mandate, which Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon wrote failed to comply with Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Documents Law and Regulatory Review Act.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s office told Forbes it will appeal, which will put a stay on the court’s order and leave the mask requirement in place until the higher court rules.
In August, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam ordered all students, teachers and staff to wear masks inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.
A group of parents, including Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, sued the health secretary in September, alleging the mask mandate was imposed illegally.
Cannon wrote the court’s ruling was only focused on the “narrow legal question” of Beam’s authority to impose the mask order, and it expresses “no opinion” on the “science or efficacy of mask-wearing” itself.
Wolf’s press secretary Elizabeth Rementer disputed the court’s opinion Wednesday, telling Forbes in an email the “Secretary of Health’s authority is clearly outlined in existing law.”