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The PA Department of Health and Diane Marseglia Colluded to Supervise The Bucks County Department Of Health 

By: Megan Brock 

On August 15th, 2021, Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department (BCHD), released clarifying information about the 2021 school guidance. This was the first public guidance he'd issued since June 15th, 2020. 


In the guidance Dr. Damsker wrote,


  “Thankfully, all available evidence in Bucks County- and elsewhere- indicates that while serious illness in children with COVID-19 is possible, it is very rare. There is also a clear consensus that students learn best while in school and there is no substitute for the advantages that in-person learning provides. The effects of ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts have led to significant learning loss, mental health issues, and social adjustment difficulties in my students. Understandably, many parents are concerned about these effects in their children.”


This guidance was similar to that being used throughout Europe, utilizing a flu model of mitigation, rather than the measles model being recommended by the PA DOH and CDC. 

Treating COVID-19 like the flu gave districts the opportunity to get very close to a “normal” school year, supported parental choice with masking, eliminated the need for extended quarantine (and accompanying learning loss) of healthy children, and nullified value in the PA DOH multi-million dollar “Test to Stay” program, which was publicly announced on August 16th.

Dr. Damsker has spent the summer working with local school districts to inform their health and safety plans for the 2021-2022 academic year. The August 15th guidance was released just two weeks before multiple districts started the school year, at the request of superintendents looking for further clarification. 

And then the politicians took over. 

The Disease Prevention And Control Law of 1955 gives local health departments authority over disease prevention in public and private schools. It states the state department of health can only appoint agents to supervise the local department of health IF it's determined, "....the disease control program carried out by any local board or department of health is so inadequate that it constitutes a menace to the health of the people within or without the municipalities served by the local board or department of health..." (in a lawsuit filed on August 31st, the PA DOH confirmed that Dr. Damsker HAD NOT been deemed a menace to health). 

This did not stop the PA DOH from overstepping the law and negligently asking Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia, who has no training in public health, to supervise the Bucks County Department of Health. 

At 10:09 am on August 23rd, Faith Haeussler, the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the PA DOH, emailed Commisioner Marseglia saying,

"Good Morning, I just left you a voicemail and wanted to follow-up with an email. I would like to speak with you at your earliest convenience to discuss a letter that the Department of Health will be issuing in the near future..." 

At 1:23 pm, Ms. Haeussler emailed all three commissioners and cc'd Bucks County COO, Margaret McKevitt, saying, 


"Hello again, Please feel free to call with any questions that you have..." 

Attached to this email was a two-paged signed letter, addressed to all three Bucks County commissioners, from PA Acting Secretary of Health, Alison Beam (page one, page two). Alison Beam is a lawyer, not a doctor.  

In the letter, Alison Beam detailed how the BCHD guidance differed from CDC and PA DOH guidance and accused the BCHD of disregarding evidence-based practice.


She was not incorrect to state the BCHD guidance differed from that of the PA DOH and CDC. It was those differences that allowed students in Bucks County to attend in-person school last year. Had Bucks County adhered to state and federal guidance, districts would have only been able to offer hybrid learning

Alison Beam ended her letter saying, 


“I respectfully ask you work with the BCHD to update it’s guidance to align with the CDC and PADOH guidance…”

This statement is profound. Beam, a lawyer, asked three county commissioners, none of whom are trained in public health, to override a local health department that is lead by Dr. Damkser, an MD with extensive training in public health. 

Her request that the non-medically trained commissioners supervise the BCDH was negligent, possibly illegal, and endangered 80,000 Bucks County students. 

Diane Marseglia quickly got to work on Ms. Beam's behalf.

At 9:48 pm on August 23rd, Margaret McKevitt, who is not a part of the BCHD, sent updated school guidance to Mark Hoffman writing,

“Per our discussion and following our meeting with the school superintendents, attached is the county’s amended Covid-10 school guidance, Please forward this to the superintendents and let me know if you have any questions.”

It's important to note that Dr. Damsker had personally sent the August 15th guidance to the Bucks County Superintendents.  Why would the county COO be asking Mark Hoffman to send out something of such importance? Additionally, Dr. Robert Fraser, the superintendent of Council Rock School district, confirmed at the August 26th CR school board meeting that Dr. Damsker was not on this August 23rd phone call with the superintendents that is mentioned in Ms. McKevitt’s email.

At 10:01 pm, Mark Hoffman emailed the Bucks County superintendents writing, “I have been asked by the BCHD to distribute the attached, updated guidance to you.”


It’s unclear why Mark Hoffman wrote that he was asked to distribute the guidance on behalf of the BCHD given that Ms. McKevitt is the county CCO and is not part of the BCHD.


At 10:12 pm, Ms. McKevitt emailed Alison Beam and Faith Haeussler saying,


“Secretary Beam and Ms. Haeussler,


Attached in response to your letter dated August 23, 2021, please find Bucks County’s amended Covid-19 Back to School Guidance. The county’s guidance was amended in accordance with your request to align with the CDC and PADOH guidance. Please know that the amended guidance is being sent to the county’s school superintendents this evening. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.”

The next morning commissioner Diane Marseglia followed up with the PA DOH writing


This email is just to check and see if you found and reviewed our amended recommendations for schools to consider? 

Diane Ellis-Marseglia" 

The state responded saying, 

"Good Morning, Diane.

Thank you for forwarding the updated guidance. It is currently under review with the larger team. I can say that we appreciate your effort in aligning with the CDC and PADOH. We believe that this alignment will serve to keep the public safer. 


Please take note that she said "your effort," referring to Marseglia, not the BCHD. Why is the state celebrating a social worker informing school health guidance? How is that safe?

That morning, Neshaminy Superintendent, Rob McGee, emailed Diane Marseglia and Dr. Damsker. In a tacit acknowledgement that Dr. Damsker was no longer in control of the BCHD school guidance, he addresses his email to, “Diane/David,” and expressed his concerns about how this sudden change would be disruptive and damaging to students.

He wrote,


“My Cabinet suggested yesterday afternoon after the Zoom, that we might not be ready to open on September 1 given the new guidance…”

While this guidance was printed on BCHD letterhead, it's very apparent that Dr. Damsker was not behind it's conception, writing, or distribution. Additionally, Morrisville Superintendent, Jason Harris, confirmed that Dr. Damsker was on vacation at that time.


In spite of the collusion between the PA DOH and Diane Marseglia, the majority of Bucks County school boards made the decision to align with Dr. Damsker’s August 15th guidance and started the school year with mask optional policies. In a last minute political move, the county commissioners distributed a letter to all Bucks County School boards in which they compared themselves to monarchs and spoke on behalf of the BCHD.

In August 31st, after being unable to bully the majority of PA school boards into submission, the PA DOH issued a statewide school mask mandate. This is an egregious abuse of power and is currently being litigated.

Since the state colluded with Diane Marseglia, multiple superintendents and school board members throughout Bucks County have expressed that they can no longer contact Dr. Damsker. It appears someone is preventing him from openly and freely guiding schools through this academic year and the BCHD is now being run by self-interested politicians; not medical professionals.


This is unacceptable and unsafe.  


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