ENOLA, CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced two plans to help students return to school safely, as this topic has been on the minds of many parents all summer long.
When it comes to school, regarding in-person or virtual learning, masks or no masks, we now know one thing for certain, vaccine clinics and COVID-19 testing will be an option for all schools this coming year.
“Students learn best in their classrooms,” Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega said. Both, the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education are focused on getting students back in the classroom and on the field safely. The health department says the rise in new COVID-19 cases is concerning as the school year draws near.
Watch Full Press Conference in the video box below:
“We continue to see predominantly unvaccinated Pennsylvanians infected with multiple variants of COVID-19, including the highly transmissible delta variant,” said Alison Beam, Acting Secretary of Health. Two new initiatives are available for all Pennsylvania schools to opt in to. “To help keep kids in classrooms and covid out.”
Vaccine clinics and COVID-19 testing are both free for schools and voluntary for students, teachers, and staff.
Pittston Area ninth-grade student, Mason Scouten is already fully vaccinated and ready to do his part to stay safe this school year.
“Probably gonna stick with the masks in school, it’s not mandatory but, I’m going to wear one just to be safe,” Scouten said.
Parents are hopeful masks and testing will be enough until a vaccine becomes available for those who couldn’t already get one.
“Keep wearing their masks and if it gets to the point where vaccines are available for them, for their age groups, we’ll review the data that’s available and make a decision then,” said Mauro Dal Balcon, parent, Spring City, Chester County.
Providers will continue to work with schools in our area to easily distribute vaccines to school communities as the COVID testing will be pooled.
“Most programs are testing once a week though there’s flexibility for schools to decide the testing frequency, it becomes really routine for the school and it’s regular reporting,” explained Dr. Karen Hogan, Ginko Bioworks.
Both mid-nasal swab and saliva-based PCR tests will be performed. The turnaround time for testing results is 1-2 days. The state is thinking long-term and the COVID-19 testing will be available for the entire 2021-2022 school year.