Parents argue against Philadelphia school district's mask guidance at public meeting

Several parents of Philadelphia school children spoke out against the district's mask guidance for the upcoming school year during a public meeting. 

The School District recently announced that students returning to the classroom this fall will be required to mask for the first 10 days of the school year. 

After the 10-day period designed to limit a potential COVID outbreak in schools, masks will become optional for students unless certain criteria calls for the mandate to be reimposed. 

Masks could return during the school year if community spread is high, a classroom experiences an outbreak, or upon returning from an extended break. 


Students and staff in the pre-k head start program are required to wear masks all year long. 

The district hosted a public meeting on Thursday afternoon and heard from several parents who were not happy with the updated guidance. 

"This is an equity issued," Rahul Ganesan argued. "It really, really deeply reflects upon that, why are our kids in the district being treated differently than almost 99% of kids in the entire country?"

School officials consulted with several medical experts when devising the new guidance, including Medical Officer Dr. Kendra McDow and Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole.

"My son was put in isolation in May, had an asthma flare up, could not wear a mask, and was sent to the principals office and made to feel ashed for what was happening to him," a parent said. 

Officials said any child with a medical condition or disability can seek special accommodations through an IEP. 

While many parents on Thursday argued against the school's guidance, one parent believes that masks are a critical step for ensuring that students stay in classrooms. 

"The fact is, if we want students to be in the schools, in the classrooms, learning as much as possible, we should be doing everything we can to keep them health," Stephanie King said. 

When reached for comment, the district said it appreciates the feedback and concerns of district families. 

"The School District of Philadelphia will continue working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) and following federal and local public health guidance to determine the best health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep kids in school for in-person learning," the district said in a statement to FOX 29.