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03/14/2020

Pennsylvania Department of Education Announces Additional Guidance for Schools

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Education provided more information to schools today following Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement yesterday that all public schools in Pennsylvania will be closed two weeks.

“The spread of COVID-19 has required everyone to work within rapidly changing circumstances,” said Education Secretary Pedro Rivera. “I am incredibly proud of the education leaders who have been navigating this extraordinary situation for weeks. The department will continue to work with intermediate units and other stakeholders to support schools, educators and students.”

The additional information is as follows:

What Schools Are Closed Statewide:

  • All public K-12 schools, including brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs)
  • Childcare centers operating within any of the above schools
  • All universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
  • All other schools (including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education) should be consulted directly for the most current closure information

Within counties under aggressive social distancing guidelines:

  • All schools – including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education – are required to close.

What staff may schools deem essential?

  • These decisions should be made locally, in the context of school and community needs.
  • Examples of essential responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, school administration, food preparation and distribution, information technology, and continuity of operations (e.g., payroll, and building operations).

What are the consequences for districts/schools that don’t meet the 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements?

  • PDE will not penalize districts/schools that fail to meet the minimum 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements as a result of COVID-19 response efforts.
  • PDE will provide a simplified form that districts/schools can use to report any shortfall in days or hours.

How will students access meals while schools are closed?

  • Pennsylvania sought and received approval from the Federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed.
  • Districts/schools that want to act on this Federal approval must apply to PDE.
  • PDE has begun and continues to expedite approvals.
  • Districts/schools may utilize essential staff to ensure students have access to meals.
  • PDE is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, other state agencies, the American Red Cross, and public and private partners to expand these efforts.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Levis - 717-783-9802 or elevis@pa.gov

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