Department of Education releases reopening guidelines for schools

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera released preliminary guidelines for the reopening of schools on Wednesday.

“Every decision we’ve made at PDE and this guidance will show are decisions that allow us to create the conditions and make the recomendations that keep students and staff safe,” Rivera said during a media conference.

Under a phased reopening approach, elementary and secondary schools in areas in the yellow and green phases of reopening can continue in-person instruction and activities beginning July 1st. Post secondary schools and adult basic education programs can begin in-person instruction on June 5th. But before schools do so, the Wolf administration says they have to create a health and safety plan.

“Have those plans approved by their local school boards, submit those plans to the state, and post them on their website prior to returning to any form of in-person instruction,” Matt Stem, Deputy Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education said.

Plans for schools in the green or yellow phase must include a pandemic coordinator or pandemic team responsible for health and safety preparedness and planning, steps to protect children and staff at higher risk, along with other criteria. Schools in the yellow phase also must include guidelines on hygiene practices and the use of face coverings. Rivera says the guidelines are flexible, and proactively account for a resurgence of COVID-19.

“Every strategy we invested in to date is a strategy that can be utilized in every different type of modality of instructional delivery,” Rivera said.

He said the Department of Education will not give a formal approval of the schools’ plans. Instead, they will issue guidance and direction as well as making plans available to the communities.

The department of education will release an optional planning template to help schools create their reopening plans on June 5th.

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