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Dept. of Education announces school reopening guidance

The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced reopening guidance for schools across the state on Wednesday.{ }

PITTSBURGH -- The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced reopening guidance for schools across the state on Wednesday.

Elementary and secondary schools in the yellow and green phases of Governor Wolf's reopening plan can resume in-person instruction beginning on July 1, 2020, according to the announcement.

The department says schools must follow a phased reopening approach requiring them to develop health and safety plans based on guidelines from the CDC and the PA Department of Health.

The Department of Education also released guidance that will allow post-secondary institutions and adult basic education programs to begin in-person instruction, effective June 5, 2020, immediately after a health and safety plan is developed that outlines strategies for safe operation.

The department says that school's health and safety plans, which must be developed before resuming in-person learning, will serve as a local guideline for all school activities and should be tailored to the unique needs of each school.

The plans should reflect a comprehensive, community approach created in consultation with local health agencies.

Officials say plans must encompass 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.

The Department of Education says plans must be approved by local school boards of directors and posted on the school or district public website before a school reopens. Plans must also be submitted to the PDE.

Further guidance documents released Wednesday provide a list of decisions that schools need to consider prior to reopening.

According to officials, this guidance applies to school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units.

Nonpublic schools are strongly encouraged to create plans tailored to their unique needs and post them on their websites.

Finally, post-secondary schools in the yellow and green phases can resume in-person instruction effective June 5 and following the development of a health and safety plan.

The guidance applies to colleges, universities, seminaries, trade schools and adult basic education programs. Institutions must adhere to proper physical distancing guidelines and other general public health and safety considerations informed by guidelines released by the CDC and DOH.

The latest information, visit The Pennsylvania Department of Education online.