Erie County DOH rescinds religious exemption from school masking order

Local News

Erie County Department of Health has removed the religious exemption from their order that requires face coverings for persons within Erie County Public and Private Schools.

On Aug. 23, the Department issued an order that made face coverings mandatory in all public and private preschools, secondary and primary schools. Section 3 of the order contained the following exception: “Individuals with a bona-fide religiously based objection to wearing a face covering.”

The amended order is The original order and the amendment can be found HERE.

“After receiving feedback from school administrators and consulting with the county solicitor, it has become apparent this exemption is being misapplied in a manner which undermines the effectiveness of the order,” said Melissa Lyon, director of the Erie County Department of Health. “The purpose of the order is to keep students, school staff and the community safe, therefore it is imperative the order is applied as intended.”

As of 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 25, there are 82 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Erie County, bringing the cumulative case count to 22,358.

Data such as reports on vaccination demographics can be found HERE. Related data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health can be found HERE. Data on transmission rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found HERE.


Erie County currently has a high rate of transmission according to the CDC. The public is reminded that the CDC guidelines state all people, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear masks indoors in areas with substantial to high transmission rates of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask that covers the mouth and nose has been proven to reduce the spread of infectious respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. Studies on the effects of wearing masks have proved that there is no change in oxygen or carbon dioxide levels when people wear cloth and surgical masks while resting and exercising.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination helps the body prevent severe illness and lessens the likelihood of needing hospitalization. Nearly all hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have been among unvaccinated persons.

All unvaccinated residents are encouraged to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines were developed by experts and are safe. Free vaccines are available for residents of Erie County ages 12 years and older. Finding vaccines in nearby locations can be done by:

  • texting your ZIP Code to 438829
  • visiting
  • calling 1-800-232-0233

A free mobile vaccination clinic organized by the Erie County Department of Health is available to the residents of Erie County. No insurance is needed and walk-ups are welcome. For the schedule of upcoming mobile clinics and other free clinics, click HERE.

Get tested

Community members are reminded to get tested for COVID-19 if exposed to anyone who is positive for COVID-19 or if exhibiting its symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell.

Testing results can help determine appropriate care and treatment if needed. For a schedule of upcoming mobile clinics and other free clinics, click HERE.

Questions about COVID-19 may be directed to Erie County Department of Health at 814-451-6700 or

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