Smoker Plea

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams will not prosecute summary violations related to the Pennsylvania Department of Health order requiring masks in schools, she announced Wednesday.

Adams said in a published statement that schools should work to gain compliance through local engagement and education regarding the need to ensure public safety rather than go through law enforcement.

The guidance, which is consistent with what her office issued under Gov. Tom Wolf’s earlier mask mandate, was distributed to Lancaster County law enforcement Tuesday and released to the public Wednesday. It’s in line with state Department of Education guidance that the state’s schools should refer to their own policies and procedures for noncompliance and complaints.

Adams told LNP | LancasterOnline that she wanted to make her office’s stance public because she had received a handful of inquiries from residents about how the order would be enforced.

The current school mask order is based on the state Disease Prevention and Control Law. Those who violate that law may be charged with a criminal summary offense, with the potential of fines. Jail time can be ordered if those fines are not paid, the law states.

Adams will not prosecute such an offense. However, the district attorney said she will prosecute crimes that may spring from the tense situations over the mask mandate, such as harassment, trespassing or other threatening or violent behavior.

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