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PA Department of Education Issues Guidance on School Reopening

COVID-19 School

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera today jointly announced updated guidance to help Pre-K to 12 schools prepare to reopen and safely educate students for in-person learning. Each school entity will determine if classes resume in person at school buildings, remotely or a combination of both options.

The guidance represents endorsed best public health practices related to social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting in school settings. It also outlines how to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, procedures for monitoring symptoms, and responding to confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the school community. 

The best practice recommendations for schools outlined by the departments of Health and Education include:

  • Masks must be worn by students and staff at school and on the bus as required by the order signed by Sec. of Health Dr. Levine on July 1, with some exceptions. Masks can be removed to eat or drink.
  • Students or caregivers should do a daily symptom screening before leaving for school.
  • Students, teachers and other staff are strongly encouraged to follow social distancing throughout the day with 6 feet of separation between desks and other seating.
  • If possible, hold classes in gyms, auditoriums, other large spaces or outdoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Student seating should be facing in the same direction.
  • Limit student interactions by staggering class times, creating one-way walking patterns in hallways, and, when feasible, keeping students in a classroom and rotating teachers instead.
  • For breakfast and lunch, consider serving individually packaged meals in classrooms and avoid across-the-table seating.  If meals are served in a cafeteria, sit students at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limit the number of students on playgrounds at one time and encourage social distancing.
  • Encourage the use of virtual gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities.

The guidance released today provides a list of best practices for schools to consider before the start of in-person classes.

The guidance for school sports is unchanged. Coaches, athletes, and spectators must wear masks unless they can maintain 6 feet of separation outdoors. Athletes can remove masks during a workout or competition.

Today’s guidance builds on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s preliminary guidance isssued June 3 outlining steps schools must take before they may resume in-person instruction.

The preliminary guidance requires school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units to develop a health and safety plan. The plans must be approved by the school’s governing body and made available on the school’s public website before bringing students and staff back to campus. Nonpublic schools are strongly encouraged to create plans tailored to their unique needs and post them on their websites.

$2.5 Million Grant Awarded to Penn Hills for Transportation Projects

This week, State Representative Anthony DeLuca and I announced the award of $2.5 million to the Municipality of Penn Hills for transportation improvement projects.

This grant is part of the Multi Modal Fund, created by Act 89 of 2013.

The funds will be used to improve segments of 31 streets in need of repair.  Improvements include repaving, ADA compliant cutouts and sidewalks, and making streets more accessible for pedestrians, bicycles, and public transportation vehicles.

Our communities must be accessible for travelers of every mode – not just those that own a personal vehicle,” said Senator Costa. “I’m looking forward to watching Penn Hills complete these projects and improve its sidewalks, streets and cut outs.

PennDOT evaluated the applications and made selections based on such criteria as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability.

$50 Million Available in Hazard Pay for Front Line Workers

Hazard Pay for Front Line Workers

The folks who have been working on the front lines through this health crisis deserve more than just our gratitude. They deserve hazard pay, and thanks to the funding in the #PaCARES program, $50 million has been allocated for workers in this state.

Eligible Applicants include:

  • Businesses
  • Healthcare Non-Profit
  • Public Transportation Agency
  • A Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO)

Eligible industries are:

  • Health care and social assistance
  • Transit and ground passenger transportation
  • Food manufacturing
  • Food retail facilities
  • Security services for any industries that were not closed under the Governor’s Business Closure Order
  • Janitorial services to buildings and dwellings

The funds will be used to make hazard pay payments to employees making less than $20 per hour as a direct increase to their pay.

The application is open now, learn more at

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