HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Pennsylvania Department of Education released guidelines detailing the phased reopening of schools in the commonwealth.
Elementary and secondary schools in the counties that are in the ‘yellow’ and ‘green’ phases of reopening may resume in-person instruction beginning July 1. The plan requires these schools to develop health and safety plans based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Postsecondary institutions and adult basic education programs will be allowed to begin instruction June 5 following the development of their own health and safety plan. This applies to colleges, seminaries, and other adult education programs.
“The Wolf administration remains committed to the safety and welfare of students, faculty and staff, and any reopening plan must be rooted in these principles,” Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said in a statement. “As school leaders resume instruction in the 2020-21 school year, the department recognizes the need for preliminary guidance to aid in planning for a return to in-person instruction, delivery of services, and resumption of extracurricular activities.”
Plans for a safe reopening must include several elements, including identifying a pandemic coordinator or team to lead response efforts; steps to protect high-risk children and staff who may be at higher risk; processes for monitoring students and staff for symptoms; guidelines for hygiene practices; processes for cleaning and disinfecting; guidelines for the use of face masks; protocols for social distancing; and procedures for restricting large gatherings.
According to the Department of Education, preliminary guidelines released Wednesday will continue to evolve as more data and resources become available. Addition guidance outlining steps for school openings is expected later in June.
“Educators, students and caregivers have done a remarkable job as we all navigate through this pandemic,” added Secretary Rivera. “Now we need to direct our energy to focus on how to resume instruction in the 2020-21 school year. We fully expect students to return to classrooms in some capacity and are confident that schools will use this guidance to build a framework that best meets the unique needs of their students and communities.”