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Department of Education Visits West Chester University, Highlights Health and Safety Measures, Encourages Students to Get COVID-19 Vaccination

09/13/2021

West Chester, PA - Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega and Deputy Secretary Dr. Tanya I. Garcia visited West Chester University today and met with the campus president, administrators, students, professors, and staff to discuss campus health and safety measures and the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As our institutions of higher education prepare for the new school year, we must continue to take necessary precautions to be safe,” said Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega. “I want to thank the West Chester community for their continued efforts to remain safe and encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated. I am glad to join our postsecondary community to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus for a new academic year.”

While at West Chester, Secretary Ortega and Deputy Secretary Garcia also participated in a campus tour. They visited multiple school buildings and classrooms and met with students, faculty, and professors as they prepare for the school year and keep buildings safe for in-person instruction.

Roundtable discussions included a conversation with the College of Education and Social Work on their management of education throughout the pandemic, preparing for a career in education, and strengthening the teacher pipeline. The College of Health Sciences nursing students discussed the nursing pipeline and their rotations consisting of working with students and nurses at local schools which continues to create a bridge to postsecondary education through the K-12 school system, leading to a stronger workforce.

During the discussions with teachers and students, PDE learned that 90 percent of West Chester faculty and 2/3 of the student population is vaccinated. Starting this week, the university will provide the COVID test and vaccine in the same building. Further steps the university has taken to ensure campus safety is to make masks available at the entrance of every building on the campus.

COVID-19 vaccinations provide the best protection against the virus. On August 16, an Order by the Acting Secretary of Health directing vaccine providers to coordinate vaccine clinics with school entities and institutions of high education went into effect. When requested to do so by any institution of higher education or school entity, vaccine providers are expected to make every effort to coordinate a vaccine clinic for the employees, contractors, volunteers, students, or students’ families of the school.

The clinics can be held at the school, or a location agreed upon by the school and vaccine provider. If a provider is unable to coordinate a vaccination clinic with the school, the provider is responsible for directing the school to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to be provided with contact information for other vaccine providers. The U.S. Department of Education recommends schools use the We Can Do This On-Site Vaccination Clinic Toolkit for help working directly with vaccine providers to setup vaccination clinics.

The DOH is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable, and efficient to all Pennsylvanians:

  • All Pennsylvanians aged 12 and older are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Use Vaccine Finder to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you.
  • Text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible COVID vaccination sites in your area, with phone numbers to call for an appointment.
  • A commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination guide explains the current process for getting one. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.
  • Vaccine dashboard data can also be found on the website to find more information on the doses administered and showcase demographic information.
  • The Unite Against COVID Weekly Update is a round-up of news you can use and answers to your most pressing vaccine questions – delivered directly to your inbox every week.
  • Access answers to frequently asked questions on the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kendall Alexander - kenalexand@pa.gov

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