Pennsylvania Department of Education latest recommendations


EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A surge in novel coronavirus cases across the commonwealth has resulted in updated guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Weekly reports from the department list most of the state’s 67 counties as having “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19 leading to fully remote learning models to be recommended.

As of November 23, Cameron and Sullivan counties were the only two counties with “low” community transmission. Pike and Wayne counties are the only two with “moderate” transmission of the virus.

Pennsylvania Department of Health issues new guidance

Following a significant increase in coronavirus infections, Governor Tom Wolf announced new guidance for schools in the commonwealth. The administration is now requiring rather than suggesting that public schools, Pre-K to 12 commit to safety measures if their county reports substantial transmission for at least two consecutive weeks,

If the schools choose not to, they must move to fully remote learning without all extra-curricular activities.

Requirements for Pre-K to 12 public schools in substantial counties for at least two consecutive weeks:

  • Schools are mandated to comply with updated protocols if a COVID-19 case is identified in the school building.
  • By 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, chief school administrators and the governing body president/chair must sign an attestation form stating they have either transitioned to fully remote learning or are complying with the orders if they are conducting any in-person instruction while in the “substantial” range of transmission.
  • Those schools that do not sign or comply with an attestation are required to provide only fully remote learning and suspend all extracurricular activities as long as the county remains in the substantial transmission level. 

“All of us have a responsibility to slow the spread of this virus so our children can stay or return to the classroom,” Gov. Wolf said in a satement.

As of Friday, November 20, there are 59 counties in the substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks.

What do the levels of transmission mean?

The Department of Education determines levels of community transmission in each county based on the incidence rate of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. The measurements are based on calculations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force and help determine recommendations for local school districts.

Level of Community Transmission in the CountyIncidence Rate per 100,000 Residents (Most Recent 7 Days)AND/ORPCR Percent Positivity (Most Recent 7 Days)Recommended Instructional Models
Low<10​AND<5%Full in-person Model OR Blended Learning Model
Moderate10 to <100OR5% to <10%Blended Learning Model OR Full Remote Learning Model
Substantial≥100​OR≥10%Full Remote Learning Model
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education

Schools are recommended to change their instruction model if the transmission level in their county remains the same for two weeks. For example, if a county is considered to ‘substantial’ community spread, it is not necessary that all districts within that county will move to full remote learning. Instead, those districts should watch the transmission table and community with the department to determine their best course of action.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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