State discusses COVID-19 in Pennsylvania schools, concerns around travel

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The Department of Health and Department of Education joined together to give an update on coronavirus in schools and across the commonwealth

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Department of Health and Department of Education joined together, Monday, to told a coronavirus briefing.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says the decision of remote or in-person instruction, for schools in the commonwealth, is still a local decision. Dr. Levine did encourage school-aged children, between the ages of 13-17, to download the COVID Alert PA app with parental permission.

Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega gave his opinion on whether schools should stay open, how long will they stay in remote learning and the repercussions if districts choosing to stay in person don’t follow proper mask/cleaning guidance.

Ortega added that school districts have used flexibility, grit and resourcefulness during pandemic.
There is no requirement yet for vaccinating school aged children, but Dr. Levine says the vaccines aren’t licensed for children. 

As for holiday travel concerns, Dr. Levine says hospitals statewide are already strained with 4,405 in hospital and 914 currently in ICU. They are concerned about a fall out from holiday travel, and expect numbers to increase. 

Dr. Levine said, like Dr. Anthony Fauci has recommended, to consider getting test even a week after gathering. As for upcoming holidays, Dr. Levine asked Pennsylvanian’s to please stay home.

Peak numbers are expected to come this winter, with no relief until everyone is vaccinated next late spring/summer.

As for a shutdown, Dr. Levine said there no plans for further mitigation efforts, such as another shutdown, but said it is hard to predict future. 

To see the latest on COVID-19, visit our PA Dept. of Health latest info page.

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