Ian Patrick, FISM News
Students attending Philadelphia public schools will be required to mask up for 10 days after returning from winter break, according to an announcement from school officials on December 14.
From January 3 through January 13, students and staff returning to Philadelphia city schools will be required to wear masks as opposed to the current voluntary masking rule.
Superintendent Tony Watlington told a press conference that the new masking measure is “proactive” in nature while citing that “many of us will be involved in quite a few social gatherings over the next few weeks.” The goal is to prevent a winter surge of COVID-19, similar to the Omicron surge in the winter of 2021-2022.
Spokesperson Christina Clark said that the masking is part of an effort to “support healthy environments and maintain in-person learning following students and staff returning from winter break,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests are also available in certain locations. This comes in conjunction with a White House announcement of free at-home COVID-19 test kits for American citizens.
This is the second time this school year that Philadelphia schools required students and staff to mask up while in the building. The school year in the area began in August with two weeks of mandatory masking before shifting to the voluntary rule.
Philadelphia School System Medical Officer Kendra McDow reportedly said at the time that the masking requirement could be reimplemented if needed.
This news comes as the CDC encouraged masking for the general public amid concern over what is being referred to as a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syntactical virus (RSV).