New COVID-19 guidance issued for schools in the commonwealth

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The state has issued new COVID-19 guidance for school districts across the commonwealth. The governor says it’s all about keeping students and staff safe from the coronavirus.

School officials across our region are analyzing the new guidance and reacting to it.

Officials here in the Hazleton Area School District, the largest school district in our region, say they plan on following the new guidance, but they are having their legal team review the order to make sure the district isn’t being forced in a direction it does not want to go.

The Wolf administration is now requiring, rather than suggesting, that public schools from Pre-K to 12 commit to safety measures if their county reports substantial transmission for at least two consecutive weeks.  

The guidance will be centered on a map provided by the state that shows the transmission rate in each county. It’s based on the COVID-19 incident rate for every one hundred thousand people.  

School districts are required to change their instruction model if the transmission level in their county remains the same for two weeks.

Districts must sign a commitment form by Monday, Nov 30 agreeing to the new guidance. Districts that do not sign on are required to provide only remote learning and suspend all extra curricular activities as long as their county remains in the substantial transmission rate. 

“Actually it’s not surprising to Hazleton Area. We were going to go virtual anyway,” said Brian Uplinger, Superintendent, Hazleton Area School District.

“It’s not really a change for us. Everything is in place. We have all our PPE’s in place. All the needs of everybody are being met at this point in time. So I’m not worried about signing the form at this time but we are going to send it to our legal advisors just to make sure we are okay to be able to sign it,” said Uplinger.

Rob Mehalick is the Superintendent of the Crestwood School District. He too is ready to sign off on the new guidance.

“So yep we are going to sign the form. It’s right now in the hands of our solicitor just waiting to get feedback on it. But we will, you know, comply with the order,” said Mehalick.

Districts that don’t follow the new guidance would have to go totally virtual and all extra curricular activities will be suspended.

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