Bucks County vindicates parents, Admits Wolf Administration interfered with the School Guidance
On 8/15/2021, Dr. Damsker and the Bucks County Health Department (BCDH) issued school guidance that kept children in school by eliminating contact tracing and extended quarantines.
Without mandated quarantines, it also eliminated the need for Bucks County Schools to participate in the 87-million-dollar school Covid-19 testing program announced by the Wolf Administration on 8/16/2021.
On August 23rd, 2021, acting Secretary of Health, Alison Beam, a lawyer who was Tom Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff before he appointed her to lead the Health Department, sent the Bucks County Commissioners a forceful letter demanding they change the BCHD school guidance and include testing, contact tracing, and quarantine recommendations. These changes would keep healthy kids out of school if they didn’t participate in the states test-to-stay initiatives. Although the BCHD was excluded from these communications, the guidance was abruptly changed, throwing schools into chaos a week before the start of the academic year.
For months, parents have been asking the Bucks County commissioners about these abrupt changes. These parents have been harassed, intimidated, defamed, and taken to court by the Bucks County Commissioners for simply asking questions about why the school guidance was changed and who wrote it.
Yesterday, a statement from Dr. Damsker confirmed the guidance was changed because of pressure from the Wolf Administration. In this statement Damsker states,
“…However, a very publicly distributed letter from then-Secretary Alison Beam, the top health official in the state, simply could not be ignored. Receiving a letter like this was unprecedented in my tenure. There was also a complete lack of effort by the Secretary to communicate with me directly, instead sending the letter to reporters and the Commissioners. Obviously, the Secretary’s letter put the County in an impossible and very public position where no decision was going to please everyone.
…Between the Secretary’s letter and the similar request made by local hospitals a few days prior, the County had to make a change. Without those two factors, our August 15th guidance would have stood.”
It’s unclear if the actions of the PA Department of Health were legal, given the DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL LAW OF 1955 states the PA Department of Health can only LEGALLY supervise local health departments if they have been declared a menace to health.
The school mask mandate issued by the PA Department of Health on 8/31/2021, which was defended by Democrat Gubernatorial candidate Josh Shaprio, was declared illegal by the PA Supreme Court on December 11, 2021.
We’d like to thank Bucks County for finally admitting that the school health guidance was changed due to political pressure, not science. While these admissions are vindicating for those of us who have spent the past year advocating for transparency in our county government, Dr. Damsker's explanation does not excuse the county for playing politics at the expense of our kids. Nor does it rectify any of the harm that befell Bucks County kids, many of whom were subjected to illegal quarantines and excluded from school.
We still have many questions. Why did it take a year to issue this statement? Who decided the County had to make this change? Why is the county using taxpayer dollars to sue soccer moms and hide public record emails?
And finally, who wrote the August 23rd guidance?
While there are some suggesting we should simply move forward, we recognize that the community cannot heal without truth and transparency. Students and parents deserve answers for the undue harm these actions have caused.
Over the past year, Bucks County Government has used a variety of tactics to chill the first amendment rights of citizens. No one should be treated this way by their government.
No one should be called a conspiracy theorist for asking questions.
No one should have their phone number blocked because an official didn’t like their opinion.
No one should be told they can no longer come to public meetings by a government leader because, “You come here to push people’s buttons.”
Sadly, all of this has happened in Bucks County. It has been difficult to endure such an abuse of power but we won’t quietly fade away and allow this to be the New Normal in our community.
It’s morally wrong, it’s ethically wrong, and it’s Bucks County wrong.
We can do better. We have to do better.
Statement from Dr. Damsker: