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Leechburg schools return to optional, but recommended, masking

Leechburg Area School District will return to its former health and safety plan, making masks optional in schools. The message was conveyed in a letter sent to district families on Friday.

This follows the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Dec. 10 decision, which affirmed a lower court ruling that the state’s acting secretary of health did not have the authority to issue a mandatory mask mandate for schools in August.

The ruling ends the mandate effective immediately. Going forward, school districts can implement their own masking policies as they see fit.

Superintendent Tiffany Nix said the district will follow a “mask optional, but recommended” policy for students, who must continue to wear masks while riding school transportation.

“I want all stakeholders to be aware that it is impossible to separate our students six feet apart in the vast majority of settings in our school,” Nix wrote to families. “Because of this, and in anticipation of many not wearing masks, our quarantine number of individuals will likely rise.”

Nix said parents will need to be flexible as changes to the school’s daily schedule could occur without warning based on the current health and safety situation.

The 15656 zip code, which includes Leechburg and most of neighboring Gilpin — about 4,600 people — has recorded 1,212 confirmed cases of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to state figures.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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