Requested to be posted by Anne Zarlenga, EMC
September 21, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed House Bill 2787, which would have mandated that school fall activities be under the sole jurisdiction of local school districts. This bill is superfluous given that local school governing bodies already have authority but it restricts state and local officials’ ability to respond to health concerns and potential outbreaks as we enter this year’s particularly risky flu season.
The bill would have done nothing more than create legislation for something that already exists. Instead of drafting bills such as this the legislature should be focused on bills that protect the health and safety of our children in their learning environments, minimize exposure to COVID-19 and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
Gov. Wolf’s HB 2787 veto message:
“We have been confronting extraordinary challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue the fight against COVID-19, we need to continue to prioritize the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians and minimize public health risks. However, this bill does nothing to promote public health or ensure that our children have a safe learning environment. As we reopen our schools, we need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions to keep ourselves, our communities, and our children healthy. These mitigation efforts not only help keep our children, teachers, and staff healthy, they also help keep our schools open.
“This bill is entirely unnecessary. While I recommended against holding school sports before January 2021, it was a recommendation and neither an order nor a mandate. Local school governing bodies have maintained the authority to decide how extracurricular activities, including school sports, proceed at the local level. Furthermore, to the extent COVID-19 cases may rise and spread during the fall and through the upcoming cold and flu season, the Department of Health must maintain the critical authority to limit exposure to COVID-19. Minimizing this exposure is paramount.
“This bill also has constitutional infirmities as it attempts to take away executive authority during the 2020-2021 school year. Instead of unnecessary legislation, we need to focus on providing schools the tools and resources they need to be successful in educating our children and we need to help people impacted by the pandemic with legislation such as funding for small businesses and child care, and paid sick leave for employees.”