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Parents voice opinions about state mask mandate in schools

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison spoke with people in Susquehanna County about the state mask requirement and what it means for their children.

SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY, Pa. — A handful of school districts in our area don't have a mask requirement right now.

We spoke with parents in Susquehanna County Tuesday afternoon about how they feel about Gov. Tom Wolf's new mandate for masks in schools.

The governor's announcement requiring masks in schools once again has some parents up in arms.

Gov. Wolf noted that the virus is quickly spreading, forcing this mandate statewide.

RELATED: Pennsylvania mandates masks in K-12 schools, day cares

Some area school districts changed their mask policies because of positive cases of COVID-19 or the number of cases in the county.

Other parents with students in school districts say they had the option to mask up or not despite the high level of transmission.

"I think it should be the school districts' choice and the parents' choice whether they want their kids to wear a mask or not because a lot of kids have allergies and they can't breathe. So that's eight hours a day they have to wear a mask," said Betty Jo Ayers, a Hallstead resident.

"I don't think he should do it," said Mary Zimmerman. "They should wear them because I don't think it helps, you know what I mean? Those poor kids, I feel sorry for them. No, I don't think they need to wear it. That's my opinion."

James Fisher's daughter is in eighth grade at Towanda Area and is vaccinated. Fisher had hoped that would help prevent the spread and is disappointed that masks are coming back for the foreseeable future.

"Kids that are vaccinated should not have to wear the mask because they're protected, and now there's a booster shot coming that's going to be next. Now the ones down, why not? Vaccinated should not wear a mask."

Parents of students say they won't be surprised if the statewide mask mandate changes how students attend school.

"There's going to be a lot of parents pulling their family out, pulling her kids out of school to do homeschooling," Ayers said.

"My one daughter, she has two boys, and she teaches them at home," Zimmerman said. "She's going to keep it up, so I'm happy for that."

The governor's mask mandate for schools and child care programs goes into effect on Tuesday, September 7.